Irish Refugee Council calls for Ireland to honour relocation commitments
The Irish Refugee Council has called on the Government to honour its commitment to relocate asylum seekers from Greece and Italy following a fact-finding mission in Greece.
Maria Hennessy, legal officer at the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, has returned from a visit to Athens and the Greek islands of Lesvos and Chios.
To date, no people have been relocated from Italy to Ireland and only 38 people have been relocated from Greece.
Ms Hennessy said: “The situation in some camps for refugees is alarming, with people, including families with young children, living in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions where access to basic needs such as healthcare and nutritious food is extremely limited.”
She added: “The Greek authorities have established an administrative process for relocation in cooperation with EU agencies EASO and IOM and Ireland needs to respond in a proactive way. The EU relocation programme was established as an emergency response to an urgent humanitarian crisis and should be utilised as such.
“These people have fled war and persecution. We are aware that the relocation procedure will become more operational in the coming months but the urgency of the situation in Greece cannot be emphasised enough. We must act in solidarity with Greece by increasing the scale of the Irish response and effectively relocating asylum seekers to Ireland in a swift manner.”
The Irish Refugee Council has urged the Government to prioritise the most vulnerable refugees, including unaccompanied children.
Ms Hennessy said: “The situation is entirely unsuitable for unaccompanied children. If no spaces are available in care homes these children are detained and for many existing trauma is exacerbated by the environment they are living in.
“The capacity of the Greek authorities is overstretched and people are growing increasingly frustrated as they remain stranded in Greece.”
The Irish Refugee Council is committed to supporting the Irish Refugee Protection Programme to ensure people are safely relocated to Ireland.