By Chelsea Tyler McNeill
On October 16th, four migrants, one of whom was a three year old child, came to Wexford in a shipping container.
They arrived by ferry but it is unclear where they came from and the gardai in New Ross are currently investigating the case. This was just days before the government publicly announced that they would take adequate measures to tackle this problem.
Ireland was given a target this year to relocate 353 refugees and Taoiseach Enda Kenny claims that this will be met. So far, 69 refugees have been relocated. “Progress is at last beginning to be made. By the end of this year, it is expected Ireland will have accepted up to 400 people through the relocation pledge,” claims the Taoiseach.
Gerry Adams criticised the Taoiseach’s statement and he claims that the Irish government haven’t been helping the crisis much at all. “In truth, there has been precious little evidence of the government providing a ‘safe haven’ in the last few years despite the huge crisis of refugees fleeing war and famine and poverty from the Middle East and North Africa,” said the Sinn Féin leader.
The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) released statistics showing the amount of refugees who have applied to be relocated in Ireland. In 2005, the figures for refugee applications in Ireland were at the highest it has been in the past ten years, with 4,323 refugees applying. For the following ten years, figures have decreased rapidly to the lowest level of 946 applications in 2013 but the figures have taken a massive jump in the past two years with over 3,000 asylum seekers applying for refugee status in Ireland.
The Reception and Integration Agency also broke down the places in Ireland that most asylum seekers apply for refugee status and where they are from. The majority apply at the refugee application centre in Mount Street but in 2015, applications also took place in Dublin Airport, Rosslare, Cloverhill Prison and Cork.
As for where the refugees come from originally, that changes yearly, but in 2015, five countries in particular were home to the majority of the refugees coming to Ireland. The largest amount of refugees came from Pakistan (1,352), followed by Bangladesh (286), Albania (214), Nigeria (186) and India (144). The remaining 1,094 refugees who applied in 2015 were from a mixture of other countries.
The majority of refugees coming into Ireland, according to RIA, are between the ages of 26 and 45 but the second largest age group of refugees are under 12 which is why RIA are particularly involved with getting refugee children into the Irish education system.
“Upon arrival in the State, asylum seekers and their children are generally sent to a reception centre in Dublin for an initial period after which they are then accommodated in a centre elsewhere in the State. This dispersal can take place at any point in the school year. Children of asylum seekers resident in RIA centres are linked with local schools,” they explained.
RIA is a division of the Department of Justice and Equality and it is their job to provide accommodation and basic services to asylum seekers. RIA will be responsible for ensuring that all of the refugees that come to Ireland this year have all of their needs met.