UNHCR chief commends Irish solidarity with refugees and asks for further efforts to support those forced to flee
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency's chief Filippo Grandi has commended Irish efforts to support refugees and called on countries to do more to support those forced to flee around the world.
"At a time when conflict is forcing a growing number of people to flee in search of safety, Ireland's comprehensive response to refugees is appreciated" he said.
"Whether it be from Irish financial support to help millions of refugees around the world, or a warm welcome to those resettled to this country, the generosity and solidarity of the Irish people with some of the world's most vulnerable is exemplary."
Ireland first resettled refugees in the 1950s, when Hungarians were welcomed to Ireland. In 1998, Ireland was among the first six countries in Europe to establish a resettlement programme. Under the Programme, refugees who cannot go home because of continued war or fear of persecution and who live in perilous situations or have specific needs may be resettled. Between 2000 and 2018, some 3,000 refugees from almost 30 nationalities were resettled to Ireland.
"Ireland has a proud history of offering resettlement places for the most vulnerable refugees. We should not underestimate the life-saving changes that the Irish people have made to those resettled following their flight from conflict or persecution. The creation of a community sponsorship scheme will greatly enhance those efforts and allow ordinary citizens to show the spirit of solidarity which the Irish people have long shown with the displaced and dispossessed," Grandi stressed.
In March 2019 UNHCR welcomed the introduction of a Community Sponsorship Programme in Ireland. The Programme allows community groups to support people upon arrival in Ireland and help them develop language skills, access and navigate public services and learn about Ireland, its history and culture.
The High Commissioner welcomed the commitment in Ireland's new development policy to follow through on the Global Compact on Refugees and support a common approach to refugees grounded in principles of responsibility-sharing and human rights. Ireland's support to developing countries, which host nearly 90 percent of the world's refugees, is an important component of the international community's refugee response.
The Global Compact on Refugees - in line with the principle of equitable burden and responsibility-sharing - also seeks to increase resettlement spots for the most vulnerable refugees and other legal pathways for admission to safe third countries.
Grandi also welcomed the introduction of a number of reforms intended to improve reception conditions for protection applicants in Ireland and expressed his hope that waiting times will continue to fall in the international protection determination procedure so that people can exit direct provision earlier.
He also invited the Irish Government to participate in this year's first Global Refugee Forum in order to showcase their commitment to refugees and to pledge further support to improve the international community's collective response to forced displacement in line with the principles contained in the Global Compact on Refugees.