Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Unaccompanied Minors and Separated Children
447. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to grant asylum to unaccompanied minors currently located in migrant camps on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos; the number of unaccompanied minors granted asylum in 2019; the number of unaccompanied minors he plans to grant asylum to in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6143/20]
I can inform the Deputy that, subject to the relevant travel clearance being received in the context of the current COVID-19 situation and the availability of flights, 8 unaccompanied minors are expected to be brought to the State in the coming weeks from Greece under the care of Tusla.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care of any unaccompanied minors in the State. Tusla may decide that an application for international protection should be made on behalf of the minor. Where Tusla decides that it is in the best interests of the child that an application for international protection is made on their behalf, specific arrangements will be made by the International Protection Office (IPO) in conjunction with Tusla for the processing of the application. Tusla will support the minor throughout the process, including attending at their interview.
All applications for international protection made on behalf of unaccompanied minors are prioritised by the IPO for processing. I am further advised that the IPO has specially trained caseworkers to process applications received from unaccompanied minors.
It should be noted that all applicants for international protection are carefully interviewed and their cases are individually assessed by experienced caseworkers. The circumstances of each individual case is assessed having regard to both the subjective elements (the applicant’s own account or personal history) and objective elements (up-to-date information on the applicant’s country or place of origin). Supporting documentation submitted by applicants is also taken into account. Country of Origin information is obtained from a variety of legitimate sources such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Amnesty International and other NGOs, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the US State Department and the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board.
While there were 42 applications from unaccompanied minors on hand at the end of April 2020, the International Protection Office (IPO) cannot predict the number of unaccompanied minors who will receive a recommendation to grant them refugee status in 2020.
24 Unaccompanied Minors were granted International Protection in 2019. None of these cases related to unaccompanied minors from Greek camps. The possibility of other minors, additional to the 8 referred to above, being transferred here from Greece is subject to the necessary accommodation and resources being available to Tusla. This is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.