937. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice if she will ensure that international protection is provided to Afghan protection applicants currently in Ireland through an expedited process. [42797/21]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): My Department is currently reviewing all international protection applications on hand from Afghan nationals with a view to expediting their progress, in line with updated advices provided by UNHCR in recent weeks. 
International protection applications from Afghan nationals are already prioritised, as agreed with UNHCR. In 2021 (to end July), there have been 82 applications from people providing Afghanistan as their country of origin at the time of application.   
In general, the scheduling of interviews by the International Protection Office (IPO) of my Department is done in accordance with the prioritisation list agreed with the UNHCR and published on the IPO website.  
Under the International Protection Act 2015, each application is assessed individually on its merits. Generally, all applicants for international protection are carefully interviewed and their cases are individually assessed by experienced caseworkers. The circumstances of each individual case is assessed having regard to both the subjective elements (the applicant’s own account or personal history) and objective elements (up-to-date information on the applicant’s country or place of origin).  
Supporting documentation submitted by applicants is also taken into account. Information on an applicant’s country of origin is obtained from a variety of legitimate sources such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Amnesty International and other NGOs, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the US State Department and the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board.