New Refugee Community Sponsorship Scheme Launched

The Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, has officially launched the Community Sponsorship Ireland Scheme in the Nano Nagle Place in Cork this morning, Friday 15 November.

Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) was established in 2018 as a complementary refugee resettlement stream to the traditional state-centred model. A key feature of this programme is to give private citizens and community-based organisations an opportunity to directly support a refugee family who are newly arrived to Ireland.

The fundamental objective of CSI is to allow refugees resettling in Ireland to turn around their lives and establish their new home following forced displacement from their home country. Sponsoring communities will support the integration of refugee families into Irish society by providing a home and offer opportunities to connect with the local services they need, such as English language tuition, employment, and education pathways.

A pilot CSI programme commenced in December 2018 has now concluded. During this pilot phase, 5 refugee families (17 persons) were warmly welcomed by host community groups in counties Cork, Waterford and Meath. A further family is to be received by a host community in Dublin in December.

Last month the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) presented an International Award to Ireland in recognition of the success of the Community Sponsorship Ireland pilot programme.

Speaking about the success of the Community Sponsorship Ireland pilot phase, Minister Stanton said: "Welcoming a refugee family is a serious undertaking and has proven to be a hugely rewarding and beneficial one for both communities and those resettled refugee families who have come from hell on earth.

"Community Sponsorship enables sponsor groups to provide not only supports to refugees but also to extend hands of friendship and a warm welcome to them. I strongly urge communities the length and breadth of the country to get involved in this programme. These community efforts create such a positive experience for refugees coming to Ireland."

Enda O'Neill, Head of Office, UNHCR Ireland attended the event this morning and said: "The community sponsorship programme has already had a positive impact on the lives of refugees who have made Ireland home. With less than 0.5% of the world's refugees resettled in 2018, complementary pathways such as community sponsorship are a vital lifeline for people fleeing persecution and war."

Speaking at today's launch, Fiona Finn, CEO of NASC, said: "It's been a privilege for Nasc to work with Community Groups and refugee families during the pilot programme. Sponsoring a refugee family has been a transformative experience for both refugees and the communities they become part of. We are delighted that the Minister has chosen to make Community Sponsorship part of the Ireland's resettlement programme."

Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland said: "Irish people are deeply compassionate and generous. The best of who we are is to be found in the work we do together every day in our communities. So many of us care deeply about the plight of families fleeing persecution and conflict in Syria, who need safety and an opportunity to rebuild their lives, but we feel helpless."

"Community Sponsorship changes that entirely. It puts local communities at the heart of our response to the refugee crisis. Now local people can work together to welcome, support and integrate people who have fled conflict and help them make Ireland their new home."


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