Nasc, Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre welcomes the government announcement on an Afghan Admission Programme.
For Immediate Release: 28th September 2021
Nasc welcome the announcement today that the government will introduce an Afghan Admissions Programme in December 2021. This news has been eagerly awaited by the Afghan community in Ireland who fear for their families’ lives. Many of those from the Afghan community in Ireland who have been in contact with Nasc over the past two months have family members in hiding, family members who have been arrested, family members who have received death threats and, in a number of tragic cases, family members who have been killed.
Although there are some very positive aspects to the announcement, including the acknowledgement by the government of the additional risks faced by women, women who are single parents and those working to promote human rights in Afghanistan, we have a number of concerns that we would like to see addressed.
Fiona Finn, Nasc CEO states, “Nasc has extensive experience in supporting people applying through previous humanitarian admission programmes. It’s very important that the documentary requirements aren’t overly onerous as this tends to exclude the people most vulnerable to persecution from the State. Those who succeed in their applications may need practical assistance from the State in order to get to Ireland such as Travel Documents. We’d hope that in line with the last two Humanitarian Admission Programmes, those who are granted permission to live in Ireland are given refugee status.”
Nasc are also calling on the government not to impose an upper limit of 500 people to be granted permission to come to Ireland. Fiona Finn continues, “the crisis in Afghanistan is in many ways unprecedented. The speed at which the Taliban took power and closed borders made it impossible for most Afghans to apply for passports or visas or simply flee Afghanistan. Securing legal permission to travel to another country is now the only way to cross Afghanistan’s borders.”
Need for longer term solutions
We are very hopeful that the government will be mindful of the very real concerns of Afghans in Ireland. While this scheme will undoubtedly save lives, we also need a longer term solution. Finn comments, “Afghans who are currently in direct provision and waiting for a decision on their international protection applications will most likely miss out on the opportunity to apply for their families. Our international protection system is so backlogged that it is taking over 2 years for applicants to receive a first instance decision. Even though they will likely receive refugee status, our restrictive family reunification laws mean that they will not be able to apply for any extended family members. Very practically this means that if your child turns 18 during the years you are waiting for the Irish State to process your application for asylum, you have lost the right to apply for your child. We really need to look at reforming our family reunification laws as a priority.”
Notes to Editor
1. On the 28th September the Department of Justice announced that the Government has approved an Afghan Admission Programme. Their press release is available here.
2. The International Protection Act 2015 introduced significant restrictions on family reunification provisions for refugees and persons eligible for subsidiary protection. Refugees and persons eligible for subsidiary protection are now only eligible to apply for immediate family members.