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Ireland - Government to seek vote on welcoming migrant children

Publié le 9-11-2016

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Auteur : Fiach Kelly

« Under draft motion, State offers to take in children dislocated from Calais ‘Jungle’

A Government motion to be put before the Dáil says the State will offer to take in an unspecified number of children from the Calais “Jungle” migrant camp. Campaigners and opposition groups have called for the State to allow 200 unaccompanied minors who had been living in the migrant camp in France to come to Ireland.

A protest outside the Dáil last week called for such a move and Richard Boyd Barrett of the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit proposed a Dáil motion along such lines. The makeshift camp has been destroyed in recent weeks, with thousands of migrants who were staying there being dispersed to reception centres around France.
The Cabinet on Tuesday gave approval to Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to seek opposition support for a Government motion on the issue. Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has also been involved in drafting the motion, which Fianna Fáil is now considering ahead of a Dáil vote on Thursday.

Unaccompanied minors

The draft motion calls on the Government to convey solidarity to the French government in relation to the protection of the migrant children and “to convey their readiness to offer assistance if needed”. It also says Ireland will work with the French authorities “to identify those unaccompanied minors previously living in the unofficial camp in Calais who express the desire to come to Ireland and not the UK”.
Government sources have said there is little desire among those who were in Calais to come to Ireland.

The motion further says Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, will consider requests from France that will prioritise younger children, those who have been bereaved and those at risk of trafficking. Tusla will also receive additional resources, as will other relevant State services, to help increase the intake of unaccompanied minors in Calais.

Fianna Fáil is considering the Government motion and is expected to include an amendment asking for quarterly updates on minors who may be coming to Ireland, in order to keep the Department of Justice’s focus on the issue.
Ms Zappone was questioned on the issue in the Dáil by Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan and Joan Burton. Ms Zappone said she is “deeply concerned by the plight of the children who were in the Calais camp, particularly the many unaccompanied minors who were at the front line of this terrible situation”.
She added : “It is important to emphasise that we already provide significant assistance to unaccompanied minors who arrive in Ireland on an unplanned basis.

Dedicated team

“In the past five years, Tusla has taken an annual average of 100 referrals of unaccompanied children seeking asylum, with approximately 70 of these being received into care annually.

“Thus far this year, 104 unaccompanied children have been referred to Tusla services, of whom 58 remain in care. Tusla has a dedicated social work team for separated children seeking asylum, which provides support, assessment and care to children arriving alone in Ireland. Approximately 30 per cent of children referred are reunited with family members or are found to be over 18 years of age.

“Under the Irish refugee protection programme, Tusla has made an initial commitment to relocating 20 unaccompanied minors from camps in Greece in 2016-2017. Staff have visited centres there and are currently in Athens to continue the intake process for unaccompanied young people aged 16 and 17 years who have indicated a desire to be brought to Ireland. I am eager to expand our ability to make a greater commitment to these most vulnerable children.” »

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