About 300 Afghan nationals are expected to arrive in Ireland in the coming weeks as part of refugee and family reunification programmes.
Among them are five young women with scientific and technological qualifications who have already left Afghanistan because they were targeted by the Taliban.
Arrangements are made for their resettlement in Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Program (IRPP).
Yesterday, 150 humanitarian visas were announced under the IRPP in addition to the 45 already committed.
In addition, applications for 103 Afghans who have applied for family reunification are being accelerated.
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs, Roderick Ogerman, said they have identified those in Afghanistan who will arrive in Ireland on humanitarian visas.
O’Gorman said his department has worked closely with the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice to develop a list of standards, which he said focus on those involved in working with vulnerable groups, such as those who work with women and those who are human. rights defenders.
Speaking in RTÉ’s News at One, he said they have been in contact with other EU member states and with Irish NGOs and other NGOs working on the ground to identify people who fall within these criteria.
Separately, the Department of Justice is speeding up family reunification visas for Afghan applicants.
The Secretary of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Brown, said these applications are for Afghan family members of Irish citizens and Afghan nationals living here.
The government is working with EU partners and NGOs to get people out of Afghanistan on chartered planes or military flights.
It is not clear when the refugees may arrive in Ireland as they will initially be transferred to another country where there are no direct flights.
Those arriving on humanitarian or family reunification visas will not have to go through direct visas.
Both Mr. O’Gorman and Mr. Browne indicated that the allocation of Afghan visas will increase in the coming days and weeks.
The chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council, Nick Henderson, has called on the government to commit to resettling at least 1,000 Afghan refugees.
The Irish Immigrants Council welcomed the government’s statement on visa applications.
CEO, Brian Killoran, said the council has had Afghan clients who have been waiting for several months for family members from Afghanistan to join them.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said the “stress and pressure” of the past 48 hours had made this need “more acute” for them.
Mr Killoran said that for now, no one knows what the next few weeks will bring about in terms of the logistics of bringing people here from Afghanistan, but the international community – and the United Nations and the Red Cross – will play a large role in the relocation. of people. from the public.
Today, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney joined his European counterparts for emergency talks on developments in Afghanistan.
Member states and the EU executive in Brussels are trying to withdraw their foreign and Afghan staff from the capital, Kabul.
– RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 17, 2021
On the other hand, a woman from Ko Meath who has been living in Kabul for the past two years said that the past 36 hours have been “feverish”.
Aweve McManus, who is from Ashburn and works in the primary education sector in Kabul, said she has been in some “hairy situations” in the past 24 hours, but as far as one can be safe in Kabul at the moment, she thinks it’s “safe right now.” “.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, she said she is with friends and in regular contact with the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
She said they were talking about either military flights or repatriation flights with different EU countries, while her organization is also working on a plane for them to leave.
“So I feel confident that there is a way out within the next 24 to 48 hours,” she said. “Maybe not today. But even the logistics of moving from where I am to where a military flight is going may not work today, but should work tomorrow. So I’m sure I will also be between the embassy and my organization soon.”
Ms. McManus said the Taliban’s takeover of power is something they have been watching for the past several months.
She said the organization she works with has been in Afghanistan for decades and had no intention of leaving.
Ms McManus said the message to her family and friends back home was that she was as safe as can be, and did her best to leave.
“Once the airport is cleared, and once things are up, I believe I’ll be on a plane and have a pint of Guinness in Ashburn in a few days,” she said.
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