How many people are seeking asylum in Ireland? –

Prime Time Reporter
For the first time since the aftermath of the famine, the population of Ireland is now greater than 5 million because of natural increases (births minus deaths) and migration.
In the last six years, there was net inward migration of more than 190,000 people. Among that cohort is a proportion of people seeking international protection.
Almost 5,000 people have applied for asylum in Ireland in the first five months of 2022. The figures, which do not include more than 36,000 Ukrainian refugees, have been described by the Department of Justice as “significant”.
In the first five months of this year, 4,896 people applied for international protection in Ireland, according to the Department of Justice. Applications had fallen during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the figures are now well up on pre-Covid years.
In all of 2019, there were a similar number of applications (4,781) while in 2018 the number of applicants was lower again, with 3,674 people applying for international protection here.
At the beginning of the 2000s, the number of those seeking international protection reached almost 12,000 a year. At the current rate of applications, this year could be a record year for refugee applications.
The international protection figures exclude more than 36,000 Ukrainian refugees that have arrived here and who are covered under a separate EU temporary protection directive.
Of the 4,896 applications to the international protection system, the largest number of applicants came from Somalia, with 762 applications. Some 755 applications were made by people from Georgia and there were 473 applicants from Zimbabwe.
In part, it’s due to a backlog resulting from the pandemic, when travel was much more difficult. There is also continuing instability around the world, including on Europe’s periphery. The continent is experiencing its highest level of asylum claims in eight years.
Britain’s new policy of deporting refugees to Rwanda may also be having an impact on our asylum system. Although too early to be fully captured in the data, the increase in the number of Somalis applying here is potentially an indicator – many people from Somalia would have previously settled in the UK.
It takes, on average, more than two years to process an asylum application to completion, according to the Department of Justice. The Department has said it’s working to reduce processing times, but that “the substantially higher number of applications currently being received will present a significant challenge in achieving this”.
Accommodation is a key issue. Of the 36,000 Ukrainian refugees that have arrived here, around 26,590 have sought State-provided accommodation.
Student accommodation is currently being used to house many, while RTÉ’s This Week programme reported last week that some asylum seekers were sleeping on the floor of a Dublin hotel.
Concerns have been raised over accommodation capacity once students return to study in the autumn.
The Irish Refugee Council described the current numbers as manageable and called for greater coordination between departments, along with better logistics and humanitarian expertise to support people through the international protection process.
The Government has committed to getting rid of the Direct Provision system by 2024.
However, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth told Prime Time that staff that had been working on the plans had been temporarily redeployed to deal with the Ukrainian crisis.
The Department said a review is being undertaken into the project timelines and deliverables “with a view to drafting a revised implementation plan”.
It added that the implementation of the new model remains a key priority.
Prime Time Reporter
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