The Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition, a group of more than 20 organisations, has called on the Government to increase its commitment to refugee resettlement.
Ireland has accepted almost 2,600 refugees under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) in the four years since its establishment in September 2015, on average receiving 650 per annum.
he Coalition wants Ireland to commit to at least 1,500 resettlement places annually in the period 2020-22.
Search and rescue
It also calls for Ireland to lead in a new Mediterranean search-and-rescue mission.
Eugene Quinn (director of Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland) said: "A significantly enhanced and adequately resourced refugee resettlement programme will be needed, if Ireland is to meet its fair share of the projected global resettlement need over the coming years.”
Fiona Finn of the refugee advocacy organisation Nasc said: “Over 900 people have drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year alone.
Safe and legal pathways
“It is of the utmost importance that we provide safe and legal pathways for refugees fleeing persecution, so that no one is forced to make the choice to put their child in a boat.
“Resettlement and relocation are integral parts of providing those pathways; however, complementary pathways such as community sponsorship and humanitarian admission programmes are also essential.”
Nick Henderson (Irish Refugee Council) added: “We strongly commend the Government’s decision, made in August, to relocate up to 100 people from search-and-rescue boats in the Mediterranean.
“In the longer term, however, it is necessary for a more coherent and sustainable plan to rescue people. Tánaiste Simon Coveney has repeatedly said this.
“The change in Government in Italy, and the fact that Operation Sophia is up for review at the end of September, is a real opportunity for Ireland to lead in both a new, State-led, search-and-rescue mission, and a mechanism for sharing responsibility.
“The Irish Navy has rescued more than 18,000 people over 11 missions and has a strong role to play.” The Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition was founded in August 2015, and comprises 23 Irish organisations that seek to advance the rights and dignity of people on the move, and those in need of international protection.