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Call for Ireland to take in more Syrian refugees

IRELAND has accepted 201 Syrian refugees, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has revealed.

The figure comes as one charity boss called on the Government to take in more of the millions of people fleeing the war-torn Middle-Eastern country.

The UN's refugee agency has reported that more than 3.2 million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries since the rebellion against president Bashar Al Assad began in 2011.

The war has seen appalling acts of violence, including the use of chemical weapons, and the rise of the Islamic State terror group.

crisis

UNICEF Ireland executive director Peter Power said he has been urging ministers to take in more refugees from the region.

"I believe we should because this is an absolute crisis," he told RTE yesterday.

"I've mentioned it to our ministers on a number of occasions that we should do this, we should step up.

"This is the biggest humanitarian crisis the world has seen since the Second World War so we're talking really big."

Ms Fitzgerald said 111 vulnerable people from the region have been granted admission to live in Ireland following applications to her department from relatives already resident here.

A total of 308 applications were received under the Syrian Humanitarian Admissions Programme which was introduced by then Minister Alan Shatter last March.

Those admitted under that programme are entitled to work, establish a business or invest in the State. A condition is that they should not become a burden, a Justice Department statement said.

Separately, 90 Syrian refugees have also arrived this year under the resettlement programme.

"Ireland is committed to continuing with its resettlement programme," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"We have pledged an additional 220 resettlement places for the 2015/2016 period, 100 in 2015 and 120 in 2016.

"The majority of these resettlement places will be available for the resettlement of refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict currently resident in Jordan and Lebanon."

Ireland will continue to provide support to those directly involved in humanitarian work in Syria and the wider region itself through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's humanitarian aid programme, the statement added.

wealthy

A total of €28m has been spent in recent years, with funds provided to a range of UN agencies and organisations including the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The UN wants to resettle 130,000 Syrians outside the Middle East region by 2016 and is calling on wealthy countries to do more.

Since last year, Germany has pledged to take 30,000 Syrians, Australia 5,600, Sweden 1,200 and Norway 1,000.

hnews@herald.ie


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