Ireland should more than double its annual intake of refugees over the coming three years to meet its “fair share” of the projected global refugee resettlement need, a migrant umbrella group has said.
The Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition said Ireland had taken in almost 2,600 people under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) in the four years since September 2015, averaging at 650 people per year.
The coalition, involving more than 20 organisations, said the UN Refugee Agency had estimated that 1.44 million people will be in need of resettlement in 2020.
The group said that this month was the deadline for Ireland to announce the number of resettlement places it is committing to over the next two years.
The coalition recommended Ireland commit to at least 1,500 resettlement places annually over 2020-2022.
It also called on Ireland, through the Irish Naval Service, to lead in a new Mediterranean search and rescue mission.
“A significantly enhanced and adequately resourced refugee resettlement programme will be needed, if Ireland is to meet its fair share of the projected global resettlement need over the coming years,” said Eugene Quinn, Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland.
JRS Ireland estimates this would require the Irish Government to commit to an additional 1,500 resettlement places annually in the period 2020-2022.
Fiona Finn of Cork-based Nasc, the Migrants and Refugee Rights Centre, said over 900 people had drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year.
“It is of the utmost importance that we provide safe and legal pathways for refugees fleeing persecution so that no one is forced to make the choice to put their child in a boat,” she said.
“Resettlement and relocation are integral parts of providing those pathways.”
Nick Henderson of the Irish Refugee Council called on Ireland to lead a new search and rescue mission in the Med, adding that the Irish Naval Service had rescued more than 18,000 people.