The past several months, but particularly the past month, have seen the largest movement of people for humanitarian reasons since the Second World War.
The primary reason for the massive increase in migration is the instability and the conflict in the Middle East, predominantly in Syria. The group naming themselves the ‘Islamic State’ is pursuing a dreadful campaign of violence comprising appalling atrocities. In this context it is entirely understandable that such large numbers of people are seeking refuge.
Our country has been working across a number of areas, including resettlement, relocation, search and rescue and humanitarian assistance:
- Since May the Irish Navy, through the use of the LE Eithne and the LE Niamh, has rescued 6,300 people in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. The LE Samuel Beckett will soon depart for the Mediterranean to take over from the LE Niamh.
- Between January and August Ireland granted 2,100 applications for refugee status. This will increase to 3,500 before the end of the year.
- The figure of 600 which is referred to in media reports represents the number of people who will be resettled here under the recent EU initiative. A further 520 people will be resettled from outside the EU will be resettled in Ireland.
- Financially, Ireland has allocated €41 million to provide humanitarian support for people affected by the instability and conflict in Syria.
- The Syrian Humanitarian Admissions Programme (SHAP) was established in response to an approach from members of the Syrian Community in Ireland. A total of 114 vulnerable family members were granted permission to enter and reside in the State on a temporary basis for 2 years.
- Over the past four years over 89,000 people have been granted Irish citizenship, several thousand of whom have chosen to make Galway their new home. The majority of the people who have been granted citizenship hail from West Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
The number of people to be resettled here will increase further particularly after the meeting of the Justice/Interior Ministers of the EU’s Member States which is scheduled for Monday, 14th September.
Ireland will not be found wanting and as before will do the right and generous thing commensurate with our size and our capacity. We are open to accepting additional people and will participate fully in the range of responses needed to address this global humanitarian crisis.