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Question

4. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Syrian refugees accepted as part of the agreement reached with the European Union; and the position of Syrian refugees in the integration process. [49977/18]

Answer

Deputy David Stanton: On 10 September 2015, as part of Ireland’s response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe, the Government established the Irish refugee protection programme. Under the programme, the Government committed to accept up to 4,000 people, mostly Syrian, into the State through a combination of the EU relocation mechanism, established by two Council of the European Union decisions in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece, and the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme, which is focused on resettling refugees from Lebanon.
Ireland agreed to opt in to Council of the European Union decisions 2015/1523 and 2015/1601 which allocated the number of asylum seekers that was to be relocated to each member state participating in these decisions. Ireland agreed to accept 2,622 persons under these decisions. As it was not possible to operationalise the commitment in respect of Italy, which numbered 600 persons, the Government agreed to increase the number of refugees it would accept under the resettlement programme. This includes Syrian refugees who had been given temporary asylum in Lebanon.
We committed to accept 1,040 programme refugees under the resettlement strand of the programme. A total of 928 people have arrived, 875 of whom are Syrian, and 113 people will arrive in mid-December 2018. My officials are working with the relevant international bodies to ensure that refugees selected during a mission to Lebanon in June 2018 will arrive soon thereafter.
The Government has pledged to take a further 945 programme refugees from Lebanon or Jordan by the end of 2019. A further mission to select 231 refugees was carried out in Lebanon in October 2018. This mission completed our pledge to the EU for 2018. Two further missions to select 600 persons will take place in 2019.
Ireland's EU relocation programme concluded in March 2018. Overall, 1,022 people, 959 of them Syrian, arrived safely from Greece and work continues on sourcing housing in communities throughout Ireland.
As of 27 November, 287 Syrians, including Irish-born children, were living in emergency response and orientation centres.
A key step in the integration of refugees is moving them to permanent housing. The Deputy will appreciate that housing falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. However, to be of assistance to the Deputy, I will set out the general processes that apply in the Irish resettlement model.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
The Irish refugee protection programme, IRPP, which falls under the ambit of the office for the promotion of migrant integration, OPMI, within my Department has a co-ordinating role in respect of all matters related to the settlement of refugees.
Resettlement in communities is co-ordinated by Inter-Agency Working Groups, chaired by the relevant local authority and with members from relevant agencies such as the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Tusla, An Garda Síochána, the Education and Welfare Service, the education and training board and the IRPP. Once a family is resettled in a community, an implementing partner procured by the local authority provides appropriate services for a period of twelve to eighteen months. The standard model is now focussed on an eighteen month period. The implementing partner plays a critical role in ensuring the success of each resettlement through their expertise in community integration and relevant supports. The funding for the implementing partner is provided by the IRPP and the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), both managed under the auspices of my Department.
The implementation of the programme requires a high level of coordination among service delivery agencies at both national and local level. Service provision is mainstreamed and all the main statutory service providers such as Government departments, the HSE, Tusla and local authorities are represented on the national task force which oversees delivery of the programme. The programme is co-ordinated overall by the IRPP, but service provision remains the responsibility of the relevant statutory entity.
A total of 1486 Syrians have been housed throughout the country and are accommodated in local authority housing across 18 counties.
Overall, 1690 refugees - Syrian, Palestinian and Iraqi - have been housed by local authorities and the Irish Red Cross under the programme. This figure includes Irish born children. In terms of all refugees who have arrived under this programme almost 85 per cent of persons have been housed.
The Irish Red Cross is also managing an aspect of the programme to secure accommodation pledged by members of the public. This is largely being deployed to meet the needs of single persons, as few accommodation options exist within the local authority sector for this cohort. To date the Red Cross have sourced accommodation for 96 beneficiaries in 11 counties.