28 March 2014

On March 14, the Irish Department of Justice established a humanitarian admission programme to allow people affected by the Syrian conflict to join close relatives who are lawfully residing in Ireland. The Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP) offers temporary residency for up to two years to vulnerable persons present in Syria, or who have fled from Syria to surrounding countries since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011.

People seeking to bring their family members under the programme can submit applications for up to four of their most vulnerable family members, two of whom should be prioritised for admission in the first instance. The Minister has made assurances that, in order to protect family unity and to address family circumstances in a considered, humane and reasonable way, they intend to apply the two-person quota rule flexibly to avoid the breaking up of family units. Applications can be submitted between until 30 April 2014. Priority will be given to persons deemed to be the most vulnerable, namely: elderly parents; children; unaccompanied mothers and their children; single women and girls at risk; and disabled persons.

“The decision of the Irish government to allow at risk family members to join Syrian relatives here in Ireland is extremely welcome. It will hopefully demonstrate the desperate reality of those displaced by the war and be the start of a greater commitment to provide Syrians with a place of safety”, stated Sue Conlan, CEO of Irish Refugee Council.

The Irish government has assured that this programme is without prejudice to other avenues whereby people fleeing the conflict might lawfully enter the State, such as family reunification for the family members of refugees and persons with subsidiary protection, and UNHCR’s resettlement programme. In this regard, the government has already committed to accepting up to 90 Syrian refugees in 2014 under the UNHCR resettlement programme.

The Irish Refugee Council and Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland have joined with over 100 NGOs to call on European leaders to give refugees a safe way into Europe, protect refugees arriving at Europe’s borders and reunite families torn apart by crisis. Sign the petition and give your voice to Syria’s refugees via www.helpsyriasrefugees.eu. Read Europe Act Now campaign recommendations here.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 28 March 2014
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