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14/11/2017

New Family Reunification Scheme Proposed For Refugees

A new scheme of family reunification in support of refugees and their families has been proposed as part of the Government's commitments under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

The new proposal has been brought forward by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, and his colleague, the Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton.

Briefing the Cabinet on the new proposal, Minister Flanagan outlined the a new Family Reunification Humanitarian Admission Programme (FRHAP).

Outlining the details of the programme, Minister Flanagan said: "We recently had detailed discussions on family reunification in the Seanad and, having carefully considered the views of parliamentary colleagues, Minister Stanton and I are pleased to announce this new scheme which will see up to 530 family members of refugees from UNHCR-recognised conflict zones to come to Ireland as part of our overall Refugee Protection Programme.

"Family reunification is an important part of the process of integration for refugees in Ireland. I will operate this humanitarian admission programme under my Ministerial discretionary powers and it will be in addition to the family reunification provisions provided for in the International Protection Act 2015."

Minister Flanagan also announced an increase in the number of new refugees to be resettled in Ireland over the next two years: "We have increased our resettlement commitment for 2018 to 600 refugees and we have made a new pledge to resettle an additional 600 refugees in 2019. These are the largest pledges that the State has made for resettlement in a calendar year since our national resettlement programme began in 2000.

"It signifies our ongoing commitment to supporting the most vulnerable refugees by providing a safe haven and a welcoming environment to rebuild their lives here in Ireland. I am proud of the compassionate and welcome response of the Irish people to those fleeing harrowing conflicts, particularly in Syria."

These pledges have been made in the context of a European Commission/UNHCR resettlement pledging exercise for 2018/2019, which aims to provide 50,000 resettlement places across the European Union over the two-year period.

Welcoming the announcement of these measures, Minister of State, David Stanton, said: "As the expected numbers under the EU Relocation Programme did not become available to Member States, including Ireland, Minister Flanagan and I have been proactively examining the ways in which the State can fulfil its outstanding commitment under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. Increasing our resettlement commitments allows us to continue our tradition of supporting the most vulnerable refugees, as identified by UNHCR.

"As a complementary measure, we are providing persons granted status, including those who have been admitted under the IRPP, with an opportunity to have a limited number of additional members of their immediate family join them in Ireland under family reunification.

"This is a humane approach, which is in keeping with the family values at the heart of Irish society. I am sure that they will receive the same warm and generous welcome that the people of Ireland have provided to refugees and asylum seekers under the IRPP."

Both Ministers acknowledged the continued support and cooperation of their Ministerial colleagues in implementing the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and the provision of services and supports for asylum seekers and refugees as part of a "whole-of-Government" approach.

(MH/JP)

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