First Afghan family accepted into State following Taliban takeover arrives in Dublin

Refugee council seeks wider criteria for family reunification

The family arrived on a commercial flight from a European airport. A Government spokeswoman says there will be ‘more arriving in the coming days’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The family arrived on a commercial flight from a European airport. A Government spokeswoman says there will be ‘more arriving in the coming days’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A humanitarian programme to admit Afghan nationals on grounds beyond current narrow criteria must be established urgently, the chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council has said.

Nick Henderson was speaking as one Afghan family arrived into Dublin Airport on Monday evening – the first Afghans to be accepted into the State following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

He said current family reunification criteria, which allow refugees here apply only to have spouses and children join them, risked leaving parents and other family members of Afghan nationals in grave danger in the unfolding chaos in Afghanistan.

“A humanitarian admission programme for Afghan people here to get their family to safety in Ireland is key. There is a need to take into account the dreadful situation in that country and to show some compassion.”

In a statement on Monday night, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said they were “pleased to welcome the first family to Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme [IRPP] for Afghan nationals announced last week”.

The family arrived on a commercial flight from a European airport at about 6pm. A Government spokeswoman said there would be “more arriving in the coming days”.

Mr Henderson said the Irish Refugee Council would raise the need for a humanitarian admission programme with the IRPP at a scheduled meeting on Wednesday, adding it was “clear the window for getting Afghans out and to safety was closing”.

He said such an admissions programme would require additional resources, particularly at the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi, to process an increased number of visa applications.

It was likely the family who arrived on Monday evening would be brought to one of the State’s Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres (EROCs), which are used primarily to accommodate Syrian arrivals under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, he said.

They would then be moved into the community.

A Government source last week indicated that most of the Afghan arrivals would be accommodated in EROCs in Clonea in Co Waterford, Ballaghaderreen in Co Roscommon and Mosney in Co Meath where there is space available. The same source said a group of 200 people, comprising mainly of female-led households, had been selected to come to Ireland in the coming weeks.

These will be in addition to those who had previously applied for visas to move to Ireland or to relocate through family reunification.

It is understood the first groups who will arrive here were all evacuated from Afghanistan in the past week and will largely be made up of Afghan staff from the European External Action Service – the EU’s diplomatic service – and will include finance workers, logisticians, programme officers, secretaries, guards and cleaners.

A spokeswoman said on Monday the Government had issued more than 200 visas or visa waivers to Afghan nationals over the past week.

“Priority has been given to those working on human rights issues, including the rights of women, girls, and minorities as well as those working with NGOs and European and international organisations.

“Separately, the Department of Justice is also prioritising the processing of family reunification and visa applications for Afghan nationals, which is expected to result in a further approximately 150 people being granted permission to enter Ireland.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs also confirmed on Monday that two more Irish citizens had been helped to leave Afghanistan, bringing the total number evacuated so far to 10.