Friday 24 November 2017

How would the latest agreement on migrants between Ankara and the EU affect Ireland?

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde
Mr Erdogan

Sarah Collins in Brussels

There are a number of key questions about how the new proposals will affect this country.

Will Ireland have to set aside more money for Syrian refugees in Turkey?

It's not clear, as EU leaders left officials and lawyers to work out the details before signing off on the agreement at another summit next week. Ireland has already committed €22m as part of last November's €3bn fund for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey now wants additional aid pledges of €3bn after that fund runs out, starting from 2018. The Department of Justice said it had been provided with "sufficient funds in its budget to meet existing and future commitments".

Will Ireland take in any more refugees from inside or outside the EU?

Taoiseach Enda Kenny backed off making further commitments at this week's summit, saying that he would first "deal with the commitment that we've entered into". Ireland has pledged to take in a total of 4,000 refugees so far: 2,620 from Italy and Greece by end-2017 under last year's EU relocation programme (out of a total of 160,000 across the EU as a whole) and 520 from Lebanon by end-2016 under an older UN resettlement scheme. It is not yet clear where the remaining 860 people will come from - it will depend on developments at EU level. But with more than one million people entering the EU last year by sea alone, the pressure is building. That is why the EU, especially Germany, pushed Turkey this week to agree to take back people that have entered the EU illegally, in exchange for resettling registered Syrian refugees from Turkey within the EU. The numbers have yet to be worked out on the swap.

How many refugees have arrived in Ireland so far?

Under the EU's relocation scheme, 10 Syrians have arrived in Ireland from Greece. Ireland has sought a further 20 people from Italy and a further 30 from Greece, but the EU scheme has been slow to get off the ground because before they can travel, people have to first lodge asylum applications in Italy or Greece. Under the UN resettlement scheme, more than 220 refugees have arrived, with a further 300 expected to arrive on a "phased basis throughout 2016", the Department of Justice said.

How many people have applied for refugee status in Ireland?

So far this year, there have been 213 applications, with the majority of claimants coming from Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Out of that total, 26 have been granted refugee status so far. In 2015 there were 3,276 applications, the majority from Pakistan and Nigeria, with 152 granted refugee status. Asylum applications here made up just 0.2pc of the EU's total last year, with the majority of people preferring to go to Germany (36pc).

Where in Ireland are asylum seekers and refugees being sent?

Ireland has two emergency reception centres: one in Monasterevin, Co Kildare, and one in Clonea Strand, Co Waterford. The Department of Justice has sought expressions of interest from investors for further centres, if needed. Once granted refugee status, people will be resettled in communities around Ireland.

Irish Independent

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