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Question

85. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will take a leadership role internationally in Ireland's action on the refugee crisis by urgently sending a delegation to Calais and Dunkirk camps to meet with refugees; to process asylum applications of unaccompanied minors at these camps; to bring the unaccompanied minors to safety here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13386/16]

86. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she has met with representatives of the Irish Red Cross and Tusla to progress offers from Irish families to house unaccompanied minors in refugee camps in Europe; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13387/16]

219. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the action she is taking with her counterparts in the French and UK Governments to locate the 129 unaccompanied minors, aged between nine years and 17 years, who have gone missing from the camp in Calais since February 2016 when the south of the camp was demolished; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13385/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 85, 86 and 219 together.
The ongoing migration crisis is a serious and extremely complex challenge facing the EU with numerous pressure points and it is important that there be a coherent and coordinated response. In that respect I do not see that a unilateral initiative from Ireland would be appropriate in this case, not least given the fact that this is a delicate situation involving the borders between two other Member States. We also need to bear in mind that a defining characteristic of the people camped in Calais has been their very strong desire to go to the UK as their ultimate destination and that this is unlikely to change. Persons who are currently in another EU Member State, including those in the camps in Calais, and who are in need of international protection, are entitled to make an application for asylum in that country, should they wish to do so.
I share the concerns in relation to unaccompanied minors as an especially vulnerable group and expect this issue to remain high on the agenda at EU level. As regards unaccompanied minors in the State, statutory responsibility for the care of unaccompanied minors in Ireland rests with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The EU Relocation Programme, under which applicants for asylum in Greece and Italy are relocated to other EU Member States to have their asylum applications processed there, does provide for an intake of some unaccompanied minors from refugee camps in Greece and Italy. Officials of the Department of Justice and Equality are in preliminary discussions with Tusla with a view to the State taking in unaccompanied minors under this programme.
My Department is working closely with the Red Cross regarding pledges of accommodation and other supports made by members of the public to assist those coming to Ireland under the Resettlement and Relocation Programmes.