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Government 'falling short on refugee commitments'

Published 07/12/2015

Refugees near Dimitrovgrad, Serbia (Oxfam/PA)
Refugees near Dimitrovgrad, Serbia (Oxfam/PA)

The Irish Government has fallen short on commitments to help refugees, a coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has claimed.

Twenty-one organisations, including the Migrants Rights Centre, Irish Refugee Council and Oxfam have criticised the response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis as slow and unacceptable.

In a new report published today, the groups have also called for an increase, to 22,000, in the number of displaced people accepted under relocation and resettlement schemes.

Edel McGinley, Director of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said: "It is disappointing and disheartening that the Government has fallen short of its commitment to the Irish public to welcome 4,000 men, women and children who are fleeing war and poverty and arriving at European borders.

"We have resettled just 100 people so far this year, and plan to resettle only 20 or 30 more.

"This is unacceptable."

In September the Government committed to receiving 4,000 people through the Refugee Protection Programme.

The report also recommends reform of refugee accommodation, the introduction of humanitarian visas, improvements to family reunification provisions and the establishment of a special rapporteur on refugees.

Irish Refugee Council Chief Executive Sue Conlan said: "Single procedure as it currently stands in the proposed Protection Bill is not the answer.

"Yet the Government seem determined to rush it through without proper or adequate debate, which will result in new laws that do not properly or adequately respect or uphold the rights and protection needs of the people who will be impacted by it."

Oxfam Ireland's chief executive Jim Clarken said: "Despite several high-level commitments, the situation for desperate people has worsened. Harsh winter conditions have increased the danger faced by people attempting to flee overland and by sea.

"We have reports from our partners of small children suffering from trench foot in camps within the EU because of the inadequate response of our leaders. On entering Europe, people are now being met with police brutality, dogs and barbed wire.

"This cannot continue."

The NGOs have also called for the Irish navy to continue rescue missions throughout the winter .

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