The Government has said that it will provide up to 150 additional humanitarian visas for Afghans under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).
The move is in response to the crisis in the country, from which thousands are trying to flee after the Taliban’s takeover of the capital, Kabul.
In a statement, the Government said that it would play its part in providing practical support to some of those under threat from the Taliban, by providing for their resettlement in Ireland.
“Priority will be given to those working on human rights issues, including the rights of women and girls, as well as those working with NGOs and European and international organisations,” it said.
45 visas had already been approved in recent days for Afghans in similar circumstances.
The Department of Justice is also prioritising the processing of family-reunification and visa applications for Afghan nationals. This is expected to result in around 150 more people being granted permission to enter Ireland.
Under the International Protection Act 2015, an application for international protection can be made only by a person who is already in the State, or who arrives at the frontiers of the State.
A person who has been assessed by the UNHCR as being a refugee, however, can be awarded ‘programme refugee’ status and be admitted to Ireland under the IRPP.
The Department of Foreign Affairs also said that there was “no question” of anyone being returned to Afghanistan in the current situation. Deportation orders are not being enforced due to COVID-19. There are a number of deportation orders in place for Afghan nationals who have not qualified for permission to live in Ireland.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney (small picture) is due to join his European Union counterparts today (17 August) for an emergency meeting to discuss the EU response to the crisis.