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Foreign Affairs | Security for refugees

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to indicate, notwithstanding the tragic experiences in the Western Balkans, the extent to which safe havens or other security enclaves can be provided for refugees from various locations of war and conflict; if the vulnerability of such refugees can receive humanitarian reception and treatment regardless of their location; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY
Ireland continues to play its part and encourage others to provide a safe haven for people who are fleeing conflict and crises and are in need of protection and humanitarian support. Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, for example, Minister Coveney has engaged closely and regularly with his counterparts across the European Union, calling for a collective effort in terms of supporting the extraordinary number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing war and violence.

Ireland is a staunch advocate for the rights of refugees at the EU, including in the context of refugee and migratory movements into and between EU Member States. We fully support EU efforts to deal with the migration issue in a comprehensive and holistic manner, including through resettlement and increased legal pathways for migration; addressing root causes of migration and reforming the Common European Asylum System.

 

The EU and its Member States recognise and are bound to the principle of non-refoulement, as enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and both Ireland and the EU regularly make that position clear and remind other States of their obligations. Ireland has repeatedly highlighted the need for greater solidarity and burden-sharing among EU Member States in dealing with the issue of migration. It is vital that we find more sustainable solutions involving consensus among Member States based on solidarity and responsibility.

 

We have also taken action domestically to ensure the safety of refugees who arrive in Ireland. Work is ongoing on the implementation of the Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in Ireland (published in October 2016), which identified 65 actions to combat trafficking and assist victims. Many of the actions have been delivered, others are ongoing, and new policy instruments are continually reviewed and introduced. In July 2020, a human trafficking stakeholders’ forum was established with NGOs and statutory agencies to facilitate structured dialogue on how Ireland’s response to human trafficking can be further enhanced.

Ireland’s role on the UN Security Council also provides an important opportunity to advance our foreign policy priorities, including the promotion and protection of human rights.  During our time on the Council, we have consistently worked to uphold international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law, including by advocating for the rights and protection of refugees.

I was delighted to be able to participate in a High Level Meeting in December which took stock of progress made in achieving the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees, including through the pledges and contributions made and initiatives announced at the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019. In addition to fulfilling our pledges to support UNHCR I highlighted Ireland’s progress in other areas including our commitment to address the root causes of displacement through support of €4.5m for global peacebuilding initiatives. In 2021 Minister Coveney pledged to increase Ireland’s funding to the UN Peacebuilding Fund to €10 million over the period 2020-2024. Furthermore, Ireland has fulfilled and exceeded its pledge to increase support for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Ireland has also pledged to welcome 2,900 refugees during the period from 2020-2023 under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. This new phase of resettlement will build on the important work undertaken through the programme since 2015, and is a vital part of upholding our responsibilities in helping those fleeing the most harrowing of circumstances such as war and persecution.

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