320. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of refugees who have arrived here under the European Union refugee programme; and the schedule for future arrivals. [6666/16]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Irish Refugee Protection Programme was approved by Government decision on 10 September 2015 in response to the migration crisis in Southern Europe. Under the programme, the Government has pledged to accept a total of 4,000 migrants into the State by the end of 2017, through a combination of the EU relocation mechanism established in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece (which Ireland voluntarily opted into) and the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme currently focused on resettling refugees from camps in Jordan and Lebanon. Within the figure of 4,000, approximately 2,620 will be asylum seekers taken in under the EU relocation mechanism and 520 will be resettlement programme refugees. The mechanism through which the balance of the 4,000 - approximately 860 people - will be brought to the State has yet to be decided by the Government.
Under the Resettlement part of the Programme, 163 refugees were admitted into the State from camps in Jordan and Lebanon in 2015 and a further 88 have arrived this year. The balance of the 520 programme refugees committed to thus far have been interviewed during a selection mission to Lebanon earlier this year and arrangements for their admission to the State are ongoing.
Under the EU relocation mechanism, 10 people have arrived in the State to date. This comprised a single Syrian family who were relocated from Greece at the end of January. Arrangements to bring in the next group, which at present numbers 31 people, are well under way and subject to security assessments this group is expected to arrive in the State within the next four weeks or so. While the numbers arriving so far under the EU relocation mechanism have been slow - for a variety of reasons outside of Ireland's control - it is expected that the pace of arrivals will increase in coming months as greater numbers of migrants apply for relocation under the EU mechanism.
The Deputy will also appreciate that the EU is dealing with a rapidly changing political landscape with regard to the migration crisis in Southern Europe and the situation is likely to remain fluid for a period. Accordingly, the timescales within which the total numbers committed to will eventually arrive in the State may fluctuate.