UNHCR welcome's Irish pledge to resettle an additional 330 refugees in 2018

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, that Ireland will accept an additional 330 refugees in 2018.   

"Ireland has again shown its commitment to supporting people forced to flee their homes because of war, conflict and persecution" said Enda O'Neill, Head of Office with UNHCR Ireland. "While Ireland will not meet its full quota of 520 in 2017, the decision to take those who will not arrive this year with an additional 330 in 2018 will give hope to many people languishing in exile for years.  At a time when large numbers of refugees cannot go home because of increasingly protracted conflict situations, resettlement offers an opportunity for the most vulnerable people and their families to rebuild their lives."

With global forced displacement at a record 65.6 million, UNHCR estimates that the number of people in need of resettlement globally in 2018 is 1.2 million. However, the number resettled last year was 125,600, far short of the needs. In response, the New York Declaration of September 2016 committed countries, including Ireland, to resettling or finding alternative legal pathways for greater numbers of refugees.     

 "At a time when global forced displacement exceeds 65 million, resettlement in increasingly the only long term solution for many people forced to flee" said O'Neill. He encouraged Ireland to explore other avenues for refugees to find safety, including expanded family reunification options and working with civil society and NGOs to develop a private sponsorship model similar to those successfully adopted in other countries around the world.   

"UNHCR Ireland's own research and the experience of other countries has shown that private sponsorship is a powerful way of harnessing community support for refugees. They key is to find opportunities for organised movements for refugees  who would otherwise be compelled to undertake dangerous journeys across the Sahara and Mediterranean."