Belfast Telegraph

Ireland urged over Syria refugees

The Government has been called on to take in refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.

The Green Party accused the international community of standing idly by as the United Nations revealed the number of Syrian children forced to flee their devastated homeland has reached a million.

Almost two million people have been driven out of the country to date.

Malcolm Noonan urged Ireland to lead the way by taking displaced people from one of the surrounding camps in neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

"One in four people living in Lebanon is now a refugee, many are so desperate that they are fleeing into Iraq," said the Green Party environment spokesman.

"It is our view that if the Irish Government were to take the initiative by offering to accept a number of refugees on a programme basis agreed with UNHCR, it would compel other EU states to follow suit and ease the humanitarian crisis in countries bordering Syria."

The UN has demanded that Syria give its chemical weapons experts immediate access to rebel-held Damascus suburbs amid claims a chemical attack orchestrated by Bashar Assad's regime killed hundreds of people, including children.

The team of UN weapons inspectors is in Syria but only has permission to visit specific locations and t he regime has dismissed as "baseless" claims it was behind the latest incident.

Meanwhile UN high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres, has warned the traumatised children of Syria are losing their homes, family members and futures.

Mr Noonan said there have been successful settlement programmes in Ireland, in particular the Sudanese resettlement programme of 2007.

"Ireland has an incredible track record in humanitarian causes," he said.

"The Green Party believes that to accept people fleeing this conflict during such a challenging time in our own country's history would send a message to the international community that we must act now to help alleviate suffering and that this is a tangible way in which we can begin to act.

"The crisis in Syria will not end any time soon and with over two million people displaced both internally and in surrounding countries, it is essential that the international community responds in a compassionate way.

"Ireland should show leadership in initiating a refugee settlement programme."

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