Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman has said Ireland will provide 150 humanitarian visas to refugees fleeing Afghanistan.
“We have a list of criteria focused on those working with vulnerable groups and human rights defenders,” he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.
The State is working with other EU countries on a means of getting the people out of Afghanistan, he said, adding the fact that flights have resumed into Kabul Airport was very positive. “We have identified these individuals and we are working on getting them out,” the Minister said.
Those identified will be accompanied by their families and once they arrive in Ireland they will have to go into hotel quarantine.
From there, they will be processed through the Irish Refugee Processing system and will receive automatic refugee status. They will not go into Direct Provision, Mr O'Gorman said, explaining they will instead go to emergency reception and orientation centres, as was used for Syrian refugees.
Ireland and other European and developed countries are going to have to look closely at the situation in Afghanistan as it develops and if necessary to “step up” the individual departures of the people identified, he said.
The Department of Justice was examining the current family reunification applications which were being processed, while the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney would be working closely with the UN Security Council to monitor the humanitarian situation, he added.
The bottom line was if people needed to flee, they could, Mr O'Gorman said.
Among those identified for refugee status were five young women who had already fled Afghanistan because of their involvement in education.
Despite declarations by the Taliban, the situation would have to be monitored to ensure international human rights are not denied, with the Minister warning that the reality on the ground “may reflect something else”.