394 Afghan refugees have arrived in Ireland since August


Since August, the Irish government has granted 510 Afghan citizens a visa or visa waiver to travel to Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Program.

In total, it issued five visas and 505 visa waivers.

394 people have arrived as part of the device, more than 30 of whom have landed in recent days.

It is estimated that around 50 people were deemed “unlikely to travel” because they may have been accepted by another country, for example.

While around 78 have yet to travel here.

“Nothing was easy,” Eibhlin Byrne, director of the Irish Refugee Protection Program (IRPP), told RTÉ News.

“Our embassy in Abu Dhabi and our embassy in Ankara played a blind role by turning the papers very quickly, very often late at night, very often outside working hours, trying to get them either by e -mail to people. “

IRPP Director Eibhlin Byrne says the process has not been straightforward

While some of the program refugees who have yet to reach Ireland are currently in Greece and Doha, others are still trying to leave Afghanistan or neighboring countries.

“It is very difficult for people to get out of Afghanistan … Our embassies are helping them, but of course we have to rely on Pakistan and other countries that allow these people to go through with the waiver letters from our government. saying we are ready to accept them as Irish refugees.

“It is by no means an easy trip, whether by land or air (…) and many of them are still in great danger in Afghanistan,” added Ms. Byrne.

Ms Byrne said the selection process was “strictly based on humanitarian needs”.

Among those selected were “women in distress or in difficulty, frontline defenders, judges, journalists, people who were targeted by the Taliban either for the work they did, for their gender, their sexual orientation. “said Ms. Byrne.


Read more: Refugees talk about ‘good life’ after fleeing Kabul


Most of the 394 people who have arrived in Ireland are staying at one of the country’s three Emergency Reception and Referral Centers (EROCs), Mosney Village, Co Meath, Clonea, Co Waterford and Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon.

Efforts are underway to find longer term accommodation. 102 people, made up of both families and individuals, moved into their new homes across the country.

Some refugees are in temporary accommodation in Mosney, Co Meath

“There is a housing crisis right now so of course it’s not easy, but everyone is doing their best to help people relocate as quickly as possible,” Byrne said.

Regional community sponsorship partners Doras, Irish Red Cross, Irish Refugee Council and NASC are involved in the search and appraisal of properties.

Together, they’ve overseen the move of families to 30 properties across the country with more slated for Christmas, but they admit it’s no easy task.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm, there is a lot of motivation and commitment to find housing, the difficulty is to find suitable housing at an affordable price,” said John Lannon, CEO of Doras.

John Lannon speaks at anti-racism rally in Roosky, Co Roscommon

Doras is the community sponsorship manager for Limerick, Tipperary and Clare.

Many of those who arrive are highly skilled and want to start working and rebuild their lives.

Dr Lannon says this means they would ideally like to be located in urban areas, but “very often housing (suggested or offered) is available in rural areas”.

Nick Henderson, Managing Director of the Irish Refugee Council, agreed that “the main challenge in helping people move out of EROCs is the limited number of reasonable private rental accommodation”.

But he added that “with the right supports” he “hoped people could be helped to leave in the months to come.”

In addition to the Irish Refugee Protection Program, a number of groups and organizations have also come forward to support arriving refugees.

“We couldn’t take on a challenge of this size without support and it is very much in the Irish tradition of meitheal. A lot of Irish people have contacted us, volunteering to help the people who are arriving.”

“We have groups of athletes. We have groups of judges. We have groups of IT people, people from different industries and their peers in Ireland have stepped up and offered both accommodation and support to people entering, ”Eibhlin Byrne mentioned.

For example, eight Afghan women judges have arrived in the country since August as part of the IRPP. Two more are expected soon.

Irish and international lawyers and their professional organizations campaigned to bring them here and also pledged to support them as they rebuild their lives in Ireland.

“We have worked across the legal community, the judiciary, our own bar colleagues, lawyers and the International Association of Women Judges, who have been absolutely fantastic in their swift response, literally bringing out questions. colleagues from Afghanistan, by whatever means, because they have been hunted down by the Taliban, ”said Maura McNally, SC chairperson of the Bar Council of Ireland.

“What we hope to do, working with everyone else in the legal community, practice, academia, and policy, is set a benchmark in what the community support model can offer, essentially deliver.” our humanity and our resources to them, for they are eager to contribute and start anew, ”Ms. McNally added.

To date, members have raised around € 40,000 and have pledged accommodation, the suitability of which is currently being assessed.



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