Nasc Celebrates World Refugee Day
World Refugee Day is held each year on the 20th June to mark the anniversary of the signature of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This year’s theme is “You, me and those who came before” and has a particular resonance in Ireland, where only a few generations separate Ireland from a country with net emigration to a country that hosts refugees and asylum seekers. This World Refugee Day there are over 70.8 million children, women and men forcibly displaced around the world – the highest level recorded in UNHCR’s history.
“The global humanitarian crisis can feel overwhelming when we look at the scale of the displacement crisis. It is easy to feel helpless but we must not allow the sheer scale of the numbers to blind us from actions that we here in Ireland can take. The Irish Community Sponsorship programme offers an opportunity for community groups in Ireland to sponsor a refugee family to resettle in Ireland. It’s a key part of finding safe and legal pathways for refugees” states Nasc CEO Fiona Finn.
Community sponsorship is a new way to welcome refugees to Ireland. Currently in a pilot phases, it was launched by the Department of Justice and Equality in March 2019 and involves a collaboration between Government, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), NGOs and civil society. The programme has proven to be an extremely positive experience both for refugee families and their host communities. The Irish Community Sponsorship programme builds on the experience of the pioneering Canadian resettlement programmes.
As one of the Regional Support Organisations with responsibility for developing and delivering community sponsorship in Ireland, Nasc is currently working with four community groups in Cork who hope to welcome refugee families in the coming months. One family has already arrived in Cork through this programme.
Ms Finn continues, “We knew that there was a huge amount of goodwill out there and the Community Sponsorship programme means that we finally have a way to harness that to welcome refugee families into communities. International research has shown that community sponsorship has been hugely beneficial for both the refugee families and for the host communities and that’s certainly been borne out in our experience.”
Ms Finn states, “Nasc has worked closely with a number of families throughout Ireland who have been resettled. The feedback we have from the groups and from the families has been overwhelmingly positive. Families feel supported, welcomed and integrated. Often after spending years registered as refugees living in camps, it’s the first time they can put down roots and become a part of the community.”
On World Refugee Day, Nasc urges anyone who is interested in making a practical difference, to get in touch, form a group and get involved in the Community Sponsorship programme.