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‘Harder for refugees to reunite with families’

26 Mar 2021 / human rights Print

‘Harder for refugees to reunite with families’

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, have criticised the current rules covering refugees who want to reunite with family members, which were introduced in 2016.

The two organisations said more restrictive measures in the International Protection Act 2015 had made the process harder for refugees, adding that the act had “significantly narrowed” the categories of people covered by the reunification rules.

Law 'retrogressive'

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said the act was “a retrogressive law, which simply fails to reflect the lived reality of family ties, relationships and support networks that exist in practice”.

She said the right of refugees to family reunification was core to enabling those who had fled persecution to resume a positive and fulfilling life in Ireland.

Measures

A UNHCR report launched yesterday (25 March), calls on the Government to implement a number of measures aimed at supporting refugees who wish to be reunited with their families.

These include the waiving of administrative fees, the issuing of single-use travel documents and the establishment of a low-cost loan scheme, as operated in other countries.

“At a time when an increasing number of people around the world are forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution, ensuring the right of family unity for refugees is a minimum standard we should all aim for”, said the UNHCR’s Head of Office, Enda O’Neill.

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