Background

On 10 September 2015, as part of Ireland’s response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe, the Government established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). Under this programme, the Government committed to accept up to 4,000 people into the State, through a combination of the European Union Relocation Programme established by two EU Council Decisions in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece, and the UNHCR-led Refugee Resettlement Programme currently focussed on resettling refugees from Lebanon and Jordan. The Press Releases announcing the Government decision are available below.

 

The Government Decision to accept 4,000 people into the State did not contain a time limit, but the Relocation Programme had a time limit of approximately two years. It has not been possible for Ireland to deliver fully on the numbers allocated to it, primarily because those numbers did not actually exist on the ground in Greece. Hence, the Government has had to find other mechanisms to deliver on the commitments made by Ireland.

The shortfall in numbers will be filled by family reunification arrivals under the IRPP Humanitarian Admission Programme (IHAP), and by our pledge to the EU ad hoc disembarkation/voluntary relocation arrangements from vessels in the Mediterranean.

As of 31 December 20119, progress across the various strands of the IRPP was as follows:

 

A multi-faceted approach was adopted to the implementation of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme including the following measures:

The Government also provided an additional package of processing resources to deal with major increases in asylum and other immigration cases, including the relocation measure, preparation for the Single Protection application process and increased enforcement across a number of areas.

 

 

Irish Refugee Protection Programme – Phase II

In December 2019, plans were unveiled by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and his colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, were Ireland will welcome up to 2,900 refugees between 2020 and 2023 through a combination of resettlement and the new community sponsorship initiative. Click here to read the 2019 Press Release announcing the Government decision.

The new phase of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) will see 650 UNHCR resettlements in 2020, 700 in 2021, 750 in 2022 and 800 in 2023. The arrivals for the first two years will largely comprise Syrian refugees resident in Jordan and Lebanon, along with a pilot group of 150 Eritrean refugees resident in Ethiopia. The European Commission will provide funding of €9m to support the resettlement of 900 people between early 2020 and June 2021. The first selection mission for this second phase took place in March 2020, but was cut short due to travel restrictions owning to the Covid-119 pandemic.

 

 

Composition of migrant cohort

In announcing the IRPP, the Government recognised the importance of prioritising family groups and addressing the position of unaccompanied children. While statistics will fluctuate over the course of time, the majority of those arriving under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme are family groups, and 40% of whom are minors and 32% of whom are under 12.

 

 

EU Relocation (Relocated Asylum Seeker) Strand

Ireland’s EU Relocation Programme concluded in March 2018. Overall, 1,022 people arrived safely from Greece. Many EU member states, including Ireland, were unable to give effect to their commitments to relocate asylum seekers from Italy as no agreement was reached on how security assessments by An Garda Síochána (AGS) could be conducted in Italy.

 

 

Resettlement (Programme Refugee) Strand

Ireland committed to accept 1,040 programme refugees by the end of 2017 under the Resettlement strand of the programme. Approximately 255 of this group formed part of the 2018/19 pledge to the EU, as it was not possible to resettle these refugees in 2017. The Minister pledged to take 1,200 programme refugees from Lebanon between 2018 (255 as per above plus 345) and 2019 (600), bringing the total Resettlement commitment under the IRPP to 1,985. To date, 1,913 people have arrived under the Resettlement strand of the programme.

 

 

Unaccompanied Minors

A total of 41 unaccompanied minors have arrived in the State from the Calais Special Project, which has now concluded. Of these 41 individuals, three were reunited with family in Ireland and Tusla assumed responsibility for the care of the remaining 38. Ireland recently agreed to accept a further 36 unaccompanied minors from Greece. Tusla are coordinating their selection and arrival.

 

 

Mediterranean Search and Rescue Missions

In support of those EU countries most affected by migration in the Mediterranean, Ireland agreed to accept 58 people from Sicily and Malta in 2018 from search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean. 22 adults and 4 unaccompanied minors have arrived in the country from Malta and 32 adults have arrived from Sicily. The Minister has also agreed to accept a further 5 unaccompanied minors from Malta as part of burden sharing arrangements with the EU, 4 of whom arrived by the end of 2019

On foot of requests from the European Commission, Ireland will take two persons from each vessel docking in the Mediterranean subject to a maximum of 100 persons in 2019. This will obviate the need for responding separately to individual requests from the Commission on foot of requests from Italy and Malta. By the end of 2019, a further 7 people were relocated from Malta and 3 from Italy.  

 

 

IRPP Humanitarian Admission Programme 2 (IHAP)

As part of the IRPP, the Minister launched the IRPP Humanitarian Admission Programme 2 (IHAP). Operating under discretionary Ministerial powers, IHAP provided an opportunity for Irish citizens and people with Convention Refugee status, Subsidiary Protection status, and Programme Refugee status, who have eligible family members from the top ten major source countries of refugees, to propose to the Minister for these family members to join them in Ireland.

 

 

Community Sponsorship Ireland

Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) was established in 2018 as a complementary integration and resettlement stream to the traditional state-centred model. The unique feature of the programme is to enable a willing population to engage locally by directly supporting a refugee family. The Pilot phase has concluded and has now entered implementation phase with applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

At the end of 2019, 8 families (30 individuals) have been received by their host communities.  Additional communities have expressed an interest in hosting a refugee family in 2020. Of the 2,900 persons pledged for resettlement in Ireland between 2020 and 2023, it is expected that 100 persons will be housed annually through Community Sponsorship. 

On 15 November 2019, a conference on developing Community Sponsorship took place in Cork. The event was hosted in partnership with NASC and ‘Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship’ Canada. This event marked the formal national launch of Community Sponsorship Ireland by the Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD.

Ireland accepted an international award at the United Kingdom Community Sponsorship Awards Ceremony in October 2019.  Ireland is participating with Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland to build resettlement capacity and facilitate the implementation of respective resettlement programmes. We are continuing to assist colleagues in Germany, Portugal, and Belgium as they seek to establish their own Community Sponsorship programmes.

Further information on Community Sponsorship is available at: http://www.integration.ie/en/isec/pages/community sponsorship ireland

 

 

Security Clearance

All persons who arrive under the asylum seeker relocation or resettlement strands of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme undergo a security assessment by highly experienced Garda officers which is conducted while they are still overseas.  This process involves an interview/s and fingerprinting. They are also interviewed by staff of the IRPP who undertake a needs and vulnerability assessment as well as providing cultural orientation.

 

 

Current breakdown of the proposed intake of 2,900 under Phase 2 of the IRPP (2020-2023)

Year

Commitment

Arrivals

Remaining

2020

650*

-

650

*Syrians in Lebanon and Jordan

500

-

500

*Eritreans in Ethiopia

150

-

150

2021

700

-

700

2022

750

-

750

2023

800

-

800

Grand Total

2,900

-

2,900

 

Breakdown of arrivals under the commitment to admit 4,000 under Phase 1 of the IRPP (2015-2019)

Strand

Commitment

Arrivals

Remaining

EU Relocation Strand

(IRPP Phase 1 2015-2019)

1,022

1,022

-

UNHCR-led Resettlement Strand (IRPP Phase 1 2015-2019)

1,985

1,913

72

IHAP 2018/19

740

159

581

Mediterranean Search & Rescue Missions (SAR)

163

72

91

Calais Special Project

41

41

-

Unaccompanied minors Greece

36

-

36

Mechanism as yet undecided

13

-

13

Grand Total

4,000

3,207

702

 

Page updated: 27/05/2020