Press Releases

Oxfam Ireland calls for Ireland to step up refugee intake after US Executive order

Government urged to use every opportunity between now and White House visit to stand up for refugees and migrants

World’s 6 richest countries host just 9% of asylum seekers and refugees

Oxfam Ireland has called on the Irish Government to use every opportunity between now and Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s White House visit to stand up for those left in limbo as a result of the US Executive Order denying access to vulnerable refugees and migrants based on their religion or country of origin.

It has urged the Government to step up its intake of refugees and help fill the void left by the recent discriminatory actions of the US government.

Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive Jim Clarken said: “Families are being torn apart and every second counts. Those desperately seeking safety cannot afford to wait. We cannot stand back while refugees are left in limbo and vilified. This is not ‘extreme vetting’ – this is an injustice.

“From Minister Charlie Flanagan’s visit to Washington this week to Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s White House visit on St. Patrick’s Day, the Government needs to use every available opportunity to speak out publicly and boldly against this discriminatory Executive Order, reflecting our nation’s long-standing commitment to human rights and solidarity with people in need.

“We need to use the close and long-standing ties between the USA and Ireland to speak out against the US Administration’s harmful restrictions and press President Trump to drop them. Irish people have emigrated all over the world for generations. We have a responsibility to act to uphold the rights of all people on the move, no matter what their nationality or religion.

“Ireland needs to step up and take action to help fill the void by pledging to increase the number of refugees resettled through the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, including for some of those now denied a safe haven in the US.”

Oxfam Ireland is calling for increased opportunities for family reunification in Ireland and for the Government to expand the Syria Humanitarian Admissions Programme to allow those fleeing persecution from other war-torn states such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Central African Republic to be granted refuge here.

It welcomed Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s announcement that there would be a full review of the operations of US pre-clearance in Irish airports following the Executive Order.

Jim Clarken said: “The Executive Order is being applied on Irish soil, in Irish airports – the Government has a responsibility to ensure that the human rights are upheld in this country. We need to ensure that Gardaí and Irish immigration officials aren’t being forced into implementing measures that could violate international human rights law. If violations are discovered, the scheme should be immediately suspended. Reviewing the processes in preclearance is an important step and the Government must ensure that anyone refused pre-clearance has opportunity to seek information and legal advice.”

Oxfam said wealthier countries needed to do more to share responsibility for those who have fled their homes which is at a record 65 million people.

Jim Clarken added: “At a time when more people are fleeing for their lives than any other time in history, the six richest countries in the world host just 9% of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees. It is shameful so many governments are turning their backs on the suffering of millions of vulnerable people.

“Shutting down borders does not stop people from looking for safety, dignity and a better life, but forces them to seek more dangerous and exploitative routes.”


Contact: Sorcha Nic Mhathúna, Communications Manager, Oxfam Ireland, +353 83 1975 107,

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