Refugee Advisory Board

UNHCR is delighted to announce the formation of the Irish Refugee Advisory Board

A refugee led group, the Board’s aim is to ensure that the voices of refugees are heard in policy decisions that affect them. In doing so, it will discuss issues that affect their communities and propose solutions to them.

UNHCR announced the appointment of the board on 15 March.

Meet the members of the board:


Ghazal Aljarad (she/her/hers) 

(Ghah-zal Al-Jar-ad) 

Languages: Arabic and English 

Originally from Syria, Ghazal has been in Ireland for 7 years. She is currently in the second year of her graduate entry medicine degree in University College Cork, which she insists is the best university in Ireland. She also holds a bachelor's degree in science and has experience in science teaching for secondary school level. She loves socializing, spending time with her family and going for long walks with her dog. When she arrived, Ghazal and her family experienced the positive impact that wrap around support from a local community can have. She is motivated to give something back to Ireland and to help improve people's self-worth and self-esteem, insisting "I want to serve the community." 


Siphiwe Moyo (she/her/hers)  

(Sip-hee-way moy-oh)  

Languages: Ndebele, Shona, and English.  

Arriving from Zimbabwe 6 years ago, Siphiwe is now based in Dublin City Centre. She is in her final year of Community and Youth Development with TU Dublin Blanchardstown. After she completes her bachelor's degree she is hoping to pursue a master's in Refugee Integration as the next step in her education. Outside of studying, her time is split between working with the Empower as an Assistant Community Development Worker and as a Health Care Assistant. She works closely with Irish Network Against Racism as a member of the Peer Review Panel for Ireport. In her spare time, Siphiwe enjoys theatre, beadwork, poetry, and chess. She is very excited about being a member of the board and is "really looking forward to getting started and making a change". 

Patrick Khamis Mboci (he/him/his) 

(Pat-rick Kha-mees Mm-boshi) 

Languages: Belanda, English and Arabic. 

Patrick is from South Sudan and arrived in Ireland 3 years ago. After pursuing a career in the East Africa region, he is currently working as an auditor in Ireland. In his free time you can find him hiking his local Baltinglass walkways in Co. Wicklow. He hopes to use his own experience to change the narrative around refugees in Ireland and is particularly interested in family reunification. While COVID-19 has dominated a lot of Patrick's time here, he believes that now "the future is just unfolding." 

Marlon Jimenez-Compton (he/him/his) 

(Mar-lon Him-en-ez Comp-ton) 

Languages: Spanish and English. 

Marlon is from Venezuela and has been in Ireland for 19 years. Now based in Castleknock Dublin, he works at Gay Community News full time as an account manager. He also has his own radio show, The Marlon Show at the community radio Dublin South 93.9 FM. Marlon is particularly interested in advocating for survivors of torture because of his experience volunteering with Spirasi, the national centre for the rehabilitation of victims of torture in Ireland. Marlon insists he cannot hold a note but loves to sing and dance. He is looking forward to beginning work with the board and is particularly focused on "achieving recognition and inclusion for all refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland." 

Diane Ihirwe (she/her/hers)

(Die-anne Ee- hear-ay) 

Languages: Swahili, Randese, Kinyamulenge, Kirundu, French, English and some Lingala. 

Diane arrived from the East of Africa 14 years ago. She holds a masters degree in Social Work from Trinity college and is a social worker with Túsla, the state's child and family agency. Diane is also a researcher and seasonal lecturer in Maynooth University. She has co-founded two successful organisations, the first being Young Mother's Network (YMN) which supports women and children living in direct provision. The second is Roots in Africa-Ireland (RIAINetwork) an organisation that works with people rooted in Africa and Ireland and focuses on highlighting the positive aspects of being African and Irish in equal measure. She loves to host African parties with traditional dishes and dance to regularly connect with her homeplace. She is looking forward to showing people that "being a refugee doesn't define you. It's just part of who you are, you can go on and do amazing things, and define yourself." 

Homayoon Shirzad (he/him/his) 

(Hom-ah-yoon Shir-zad) 

Languages: Dari, Pashto, Uzbek, Hazaragi, English and a little bit of Urdu. 

Homayoon arrived in Ireland from Afghanistan 5 years ago. Homayoon is a Humanitarian and Community Worker with over 19 years of work experience with reputable international organizations in Ireland and abroad. Currently, he is the Deputy National Coordinator for Places of Sanctuary Ireland with a particular leadership role in Schools of Sanctuary. Schools of Sanctuary is an initiative to make Irish schools a place of welcome for refugees. Homayoon has presented in the Dáil numerous times to advocate for refugee issues and holds a master's degree in International Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid. He is currently pursuing his honours degree in Community Development with Waterford IT, in his hometown. During his down time, Homayoon finds peace through yoga and meditation. He is passionate about working with his community and believes "when you are trying to improve inclusivity and integration of newcomers, it is critical to increase the whole community's understanding of the kind of issues newcomers have faced back home, on their way to Ireland and what issues they face here." 

Marwa Zamir (she/her/hers) 

(Mar-wah Zah-meer) 

Languages: Farsi, Pashto and English.  

Originally from Afghanistan, Marwa has been in Ireland for five years. She lives in Lucan, Dublin with her family. Currently in her leaving cert year, she is hoping to study law as her undergraduate degree. Marwa began her Irish education at the end of first year and has a unique perspective on the education system and youth issues in Ireland. She is a volunteer with Foróige, a dedicated youth leader with the Irish Refugee Council and is pursuing her Gaisce silver medal. Marwa has experience working with the Zamir foundation, an Afghan NGO working to fight food poverty in the country. She has always wanted to work with the UN since visiting her Dad's UN office in Kabul as a young child. Marwa is an avid writer, with one of her stories being published in Correspondences, by Jessica Traynor. She is determined to "do as much as I can to have an impact on issues for the refugee people of Ireland." 

Radwan Abouhajar (he/him/his) 

(Rad-wan Aboo-ha-jar) 

Languages: Arabic and English. 

Originally from Syria, Radwan has been in Ireland for 8 years. Based in Portlaoise, he has extensive experience working across community development in Portlaoise and Offaly, including as a resettlement worker. He has completed his Masters in Refugee Integration with DCU and is co-founder of Laois Integration Network, where he still volunteers his time. Last year he began a course in housing studies with the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) to further educate himself around the housing sector. When he arrived in Ireland, Radwan noticed that certain Syrian vegetables were very hard to find. This led to his passion project, growing Syrian vegetables in multiple glasshouses around the midlands of Ireland. Radwan is particularly interested in employment issues for refugees and knows "there are a lot of people with skills and ideas, and I hope the Refugee Advisory Board can be their voice."