Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
I share the Deputy’s concerns for the Afghan people and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Ireland has acted swiftly and compassionately to demonstrate our support and solidarity with the Afghan people. My Department continues to work closely with colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to ensure a coordinated national response.
As the Deputy is aware, the Government has approved my Department's proposal for an additional initiative: the special Afghan Admission Programme, which will provide places for up to 500 Afghan family members to travel to Ireland. Each applicant will have an opportunity to nominate up to four family members who are currently residing in Afghanistan or who have fled to neighbouring territories and whom they consider would be especially at risk in terms of their freedom and safety.
My Department intends to open the Programme for applications during mid-December.
A key focus of the Programme will be on establishing the identity of those intending to come to Ireland. Therefore, in advance of the Programme’s launch date, applicants and beneficiaries should focus on ensuring they have as many identity documents as possible.
The creation of this Programme is unique to date in the EU and was welcomed by the UNHCR as a very welcome commitment by Ireland that will bring much needed solace to Afghans here who are worried about their relatives abroad.
In the meantime, I want to assure the Deputy that all current immigration avenues remain open for new applications, including visa and family reunification applications. More than 750 Afghan nationals have already been granted permissions to reside in the State so far this year and my Department will continue to process any new applications received speedily and sympathetically.