Ireland to accept up to 4,000 refugees

Dublin: Ireland is set to accept up to 4,000 persons overall under its refugee protection programme, a cabinet minister announced on Thursday.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the figure includes the 600 people already committed to earlier this year under the proposed EU relocation programme and the 520 refugees currently being resettled to Ireland under a previously-agreed programme, Xinhua news agency reported.

A network of emergency reception and orientation centres will be established around the country to accept and process the additional people under the programme, Fitzgerald said after a special cabinet meeting.

She said assessments and decisions on refugee status will be made in the centres within weeks.

She also said a budget allocation has been made to begin the process and will look at a special allocation of resources.

Fitzgerald said the cost was 12 million euros ($13.45 million) a year for every 1,000 refugees.

She said her department has asked for a budget of 6 million euros to deal with initial numbers and to put in place staff for the initial setting up of the new programme.

The Irish government will be applying to the European Union for funding, she said, adding that it will also ask the European Commission to exclude the cost from the national finances.

Fitzgerald said the first refugees will start to arrive in the next few weeks.

She said special priority will be given to unaccompanied minors.