As Gript has pointed out on several occasions, one of the most striking features of the refugee asylum system here is the huge proportion of people who apply for international protection orders even though their country of origin is deemed as safe under international criteria.
There is also of course a large number of people from such countries who manage to stay here regardless of whether or not they are approved. They will be the main beneficiaries of the current amnesty for illegal immigrants that was announced at the end of 2021.
There would appear to be, however, as we noted yesterday in relation to the changes to visa requirements for persons who have already been granted asylum in another country, a major sea change on the part of Government.
This we are being told is to ensure that abuses of the system are not going to interfere with the large numbers of Ukrainians who have been granted asylum here since the beginning of the war. According to the CSO, 43,256 Ukrainians had been given a new PPS number up to July 10.
Those figures also show that 876 PPS numbers had been issued to persons of “Other nationalities with protected status.” However, that only accounts for a minority of those from countries other than Ukraine who have applied for asylum here. The reason clearly being that the vast bulk of those applicants are not of “nationalities with protected status.”
That has been confirmed by statistics provided to the government which show that the bulk of new applicants are from countries in which there are no wars. These include Georgia, Algeria, Zimbabwe and Nigeria which also accounted for a significant proportion of the 2,649 applications in 2021.
What is most striking of course, and which has forced the Government to abandon its ultra-liberal approach to the issue of asylum is, the huge increase in the numbers. Already to the end of June there were over 6,400 applications, which would set this country on course to seeing an increase of something like 400% on 2021. Minister Roderic O’Gorman recently told a UN Committee that some projections put the number of expected migrants claiming asylum to reach 15,000 n 2022.
That is clearly not sustainable. The indications that the Government intends to “get tough” on all of this have of course not gone down well with the vast NGO migrant sector, nor with the political left.
In response to Monday’s decision on visas – which is to ensure that people who have applied for refugee status in other safe European countries cannot then travel onto Ireland while awaiting a decision – the Irish Refugee Council contrasted the requirement to “the principle of free movement for EU nationals.”
They seem to have entirely missed the point that people claiming to be seeking asylum within the EU are not “EU nationals.”
The Refugee Council also referred to refugees whose families have been “torn apart by war.” Again, as far as this observer is aware, there are no wars in countries like Georgia, Zimbabwe, Algeria, South Africa and Nigeria which feature among the leading countries of origin for people applying for asylum in Ireland.
Gript reached out to the Irish Refugee Council to ask them: “what wars you might be referring to with regard to people from those countries seeking to apply for asylum in Ireland, or indeed in any other EU state.”
Nick Henderson of the Refugee Council responded to state that:
“People flee and receive protection on account of war and also individual persecution. The 1951 Refugee Convention states that a refugee is a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group. In other words, you do not have to have fled war in order to be a refugee.”
It is true that fleeing war is not the only criterion for claiming refugee status but it is the one that was cited by the Irish Refugee Council as an argument against the reintroduction of a visa requirement on the part of people travelling to Ireland who have already been granted protection in another country.
It is also the case that there are other conventions and criteria governing the granting of asylum. Not least of which is that a person claiming to be fleeing persecution should claim protection in the first safe country in which they land. That clearly has not been the case where large numbers of people have arrived into Ireland having travelled from a safe country.
A more flagrant abuse still is that which the Government has eventually decided to address with its temporary derogation from the European Council regarding visas, Namely, that over 60% of those who have applied for protection in this country since the beginning of 2022 have already been granted asylum in another country.