Press Releases

Irish INGOs call on UN Security Council to vote to keep vital humanitarian aid border crossing between north-west Syria and Turkey open

4 July 2021

A group of Irish humanitarian aid organisations are collectively calling on members of the United Nations Security Council, of which Ireland is a temporary member, to approve the reauthorisation of a vital border crossing which allows aid between Turkey and conflict affected north-west Syria.

The NGOs warn that over three million people in Syria will be left without critical life-saving humanitarian assistance if consensus, which enables aid to flow through the only remaining border crossing between Turkey and north-west Syria at Bab al Hawa, is not secured.  UN Security Council members have until July 10th to unanimously agree to renew the Syria Cross-Border Resolution.

The Bab al Hawa crossing allows humanitarian aid to be delivered to a region where 81 percent of the population, half of whom are children, are in need of support.

Concern Worldwide, GOAL, Trocaire, Oxfam Ireland and World Vision are appealing to the Security Council to approve the reauthorisation of the crossing for at least another 12 months. In addition to the Bab al Hawa border crossing, they are also calling for the re-opening of the Al Yarubiyah and Bab al Salam crossings, which have been closed over the last year and a half.

In a joint statement the NGOS say: “If the last remaining border crossing is closed off after July 10th the work of the entire humanitarian community to provide timely life-saving assistance, could be in jeopardy and the consequences will be disastrous. This cannot be allowed to happen. Ireland, with Norway, has specific responsibility at the UN Security Council to convene consensus on the text of the resolution that protects cross-border aid.”

The statement also urges the Security Council to go further to expand means for the delivery of aid by urgently reinstating the Bab al Salam and Al Yarubiyah crossings in the resolution.

The renewal of the Syria Cross-Border Resolution is the only way the Bab al Hawa crossing can remain open.

The NGO group warn that a failure to do so would result in a looming humanitarian catastrophe, with food aid supplies, Covid-19 vaccines, and critical medical supplies unable to be delivered.

It said: “The number of people in need in Syria is currently at its highest ever level, growing 20 percent in the last year alone. The ongoing economic crisis in the region coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic has led to record levels of food insecurity and economic hardship. Covid-19 continues to spread at an alarming rate while the healthcare infrastructure, decimated by years of conflict, remains woefully inadequate to respond.

“Ten years on in Syria, the need for humanitarian assistance has never been greater for 22 million civilians caught up in this horrific conflict. Some 80 percent of the population now live below the poverty line and 9.3 million people are food insecure. Access is critical to ensure that all humanitarian agencies can continue to provide life-saving assistance.”

In March the group raised their concerns about the closure of the border crossing in a joint submission to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITOR:

Case studies and quotes from children living in North West Syria are available on request.

Spokespeople available:

Bríd Kennedy, Middle East Regional Director, Concern Worldwide

Lorraine Marriott, Regional Director for the Middle East, GOAL

Colm Byrne, Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Ireland

Niall O Keeffe, Head of Portfolio, FCAS, Trócaire

Maurice Sadlier, Programmes & Policy Director, World Vision Ireland

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People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland – Official Launch

  • Irish organisations, health practitioners, trade unions, and activists unite for a People’s Vaccine  
  • People’s Vaccine coalition call on Irish government to stand for fairness, equality and global health 

Updated 5th July 2021

What: Official launch of the People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland

When: 13:00 – 14:00 (Irish Summer Time), July 8, 2021 

Where: Virtual event hosted on Zoom. RSVP here

Confirmed speakers:

  • Dr Ciara Conlan, Co-Founder of Access to Medicines Ireland 
  • Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme
  • Isabel Simpson, Executive Director, Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland  
  • Majo Rivas, Paraguayan-Irish People's Vaccine activist  
  • Mustaqeem De Gama, South African Permanent Mission to the WTO in relation to the TRIPS waiver
  • Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, Irish Independent Politician
  • Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS

Further information 

This event marks the launch of a national campaign by the People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland—a coalition of Irish organisations, health practitioners, trade unions and activists who have come together to call on the Irish government to take a stand for equality and global health. 

The fairest and most effective way to end the Covid-19 pandemic is to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. Yet, pharmaceutical company monopolies could leave countries in the global south waiting until 2023 for widespread vaccination. This must change, so they too can protect their citizens. 

Current vaccine inequity can be addressed by temporarily waiving intellectual property rights to vaccines by supporting the TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organisation and by encouraging pharmaceutical companies to share their know-how, so that the manufacture of vaccines can be scaled up to the meet the global need. This is the morally right thing to do, but in addition, restricting vaccine supply to protect profits during the pandemic, means all populations remain at further risk of health and economic shocks and crises. 

Join us to discuss the obstacles standing in the way of global vaccine access on Thursday 8, July from 13:00, when we will hear from Irish and international speakers campaigning for vaccine equity worldwide.

For more information, please visit http://peoplesvaccine.ie

Register to attend this event launch: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HxYiidujSHWAKkzPLUkLfw

ENDS

Contact 

Caroline Reid | Oxfam Ireland | 087 912 3165 

Jo-Ann Ward | ActionAid Ireland | 087 768 6289

Notes to the Editor

The People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland is coordinated by: Access to Medicines Ireland, Action Aid Ireland, Amnesty International Ireland, AMRI, Comhlamh, Christian Aid Ireland, GOAL, Friends of the Earth Ireland, ICCL, Irish General Practice Nurses Educational Association, Irish Global Health Network, Oxfam Ireland, Plan International Ireland and Trócaire. 

The people’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland’s Demands:

  1. Ireland must use its voice within the EU to support the TRIPS waiver - Call on governments to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights at the World Trade Organisation for Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. This will help break Big Pharma monopolies and increase supplies so there are enough doses for everyone, everywhere. For more info, click here and here. 
  2. Ireland must endorse the World Health Organisation (WHO) COVID Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) to facilitate the sharing of know-how by Pharmaceutical companies to increase vaccine production.

Speaker bios:

Dr Ciara Conlan is one of the co-founders of Access to Medicines Ireland (AMI). AMI together with the other members of the People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland have been leading voices calling for global COVID-19 vaccine equity. Ciara is a medical doctor currently working in virology and COVID- 19 surveillance. She holds a further diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Ciara has first-hand experience working on the COVID-19 wards in Ireland and has also spent time working in rural Malawi. She is interested in the intersection between social exclusion and infectious diseases, and in access to medicine problems caused by the current commercial model of drug development.

Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme has been at the forefront of managing acute risks to global health for nearly 25 years. He served as Assistant Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response in WHO's Health Emergencies Programme from 2017 to 2019. Dr Ryan first joined WHO in 1996, with the newly established unit to respond to emerging and epidemic disease threats. He has worked in conflict affected countries and led many responses to high impact epidemics. He completed medical training at the National University of Ireland, Galway, a Master’s in Public Health at University College Dublin, and specialist training in communicable disease control at the Health Protection Agency in London and the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training.

Isabel Simpson has a professional background in nursing and over 25 years in humanitarian work having worked in Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Somaliland, Iraq, North East India. As Executive Director of MSF Ireland, Isabel leads MSF’s work in Ireland – providing staff to support emergencies and MSF’s projects globally, raising funds for MSF’s operations and speaking out to highlight humanitarian crises. Isabel’s work includes bringing attention to equitable access to medicines across the world.

Majo Rivas is Paraguayan-Irish and lives in Cork. She has worked in advocacy in sexual and reproductive rights, migrant rights and disability rights. Almost all of her immediate family (whom she misses very much) is in Paraguay, so vaccine inequality is particularly close to home.

Mustaqeem De Gama is currently a Counsellor at the South African Mission in Geneva and is accredited to the WTO and UN. He has been a determined advocate, on behalf of the South African Government, for adoption of the TRIPS waiver at the WTO. He previously worked at the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa where he headed the International Trade and Investment Directorate.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins is a progressive, independent Senator with a strong commitment to equality, the environment and human rights. Senator Higgins was re-elected to Seanad Éireann (NUI Panel) in March 2020 where she is leader of the Civil Engagement Group, a group of Senators who each have backgrounds in civil society. Alice-Mary has held a number of other policy and advocacy roles in Irish civil society organisations and has been active in many public campaigns and referenda. 

Winnie Byanyima is the Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. A passionate and longstanding champion of social justice and gender equality, Ms. Byanyima leads the United Nations efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Ms. Byanyima believes that health care is a human right and has been an early champion of a People’s Vaccine against the coronavirus that is available and free of charge to everyone, everywhere.

Before joining UNAIDS, Ms. Byanyima served as the Executive Director of Oxfam  International, a confederation of 20 civil society organisations working in more than 90 countries worldwide, empowering people to create a future that is secure, just, and free from poverty.

Ms. Byanyima was elected for three terms and served eleven years in the Parliament of her country, Uganda. She led Uganda's first parliamentary women’s caucus, championing ground-breaking gender equality provisions in the county's 1995 post-conflict constitution. Ms. Byanyima led the establishment of the African Union Commission’s Directorate of Gender and Development and also served as Director of Gender and Development at UNDP. She founded the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), an influential Ugandan NGO, and has been deeply involved in building global and African coalitions on social justice issues. A global leader on inequality, Ms. Byanyima has co-chaired the World Economic Forum and served on the World Bank’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development, ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work and the Global Commission on Adaptation.

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Broadcasters Lorraine Keane and Maïa Dunphy partner up for Oxfam Bridal

  • Something pre-loved, something new, something for all brides-to-be at Oxfam's Bridal Rooms
  • Oxfam call on Brides to donate their wedding dresses – for people and planet 

16 June 2021

Today, Broadcasters Lorraine Keane and Maïa Dunphy donned their wedding dresses one more time to encourage brides-to-be to book an appointment at Oxfam's Bridal Rooms in Dublin and Belfast.

If you want to find a beautiful dress that doesn’t cost the earth (literally), you can shop with piece of mind at Oxfam Bridal where you will find wedding dresses for all tastes – vintage, designer or pre-loved! Many of the dresses you'll find are donated by bridal boutiques or designers, saving them from landfills, and have never even had their special day. So, if shopping on a budget, you could find your dream dress at a fraction of what it would normally cost.

In the mix, you will also find some beautiful pre-loved dresses, like Maia Dunphy’s stunning Jenny Packham dress – which she generously donated to Oxfam last year. Or Lorraine Keane's beautiful lace detailed dress by Spanish designer Jesus Peiro, which she bought in San Sebastián.

Lorraine Keane, Broadcaster and founder of Fashion Relief with Oxfam Ireland, said: “Your wedding day is a time to celebrate love, happiness and a future together. For many couples, incorporating some sustainable elements or charitable giving into their special day is becoming more popular. It's a great way to have a positive impact on the future of others while you celebrate your love and commitment to that special someone in your life.

“You also don’t have to spend a fortune to look a million dollars. By booking an appointment with Oxfam Bridal today you can browse and try on a selection of beautiful brand new and pre-loved wedding dresses - including my own, which I just donated to Oxfam! From vintage to the occasional designer gown, Oxfam’s dedicated Bridal Rooms in Dublin and Belfast stock all styles and sizes - a selection of which are currently on display at the Frascati Centre in Blackrock - as well a range of bridal accessories and bridesmaids' dresses. And, the extra bonus is, by supporting Oxfam, your big day creates a brighter future for people living with the injustice of poverty.”

Broadcaster and writer Maia Dunphy, who recently donated her wedding dress said: "After wearing my dress during lockdown, to raise a smile and funds for a charity close to my heart, I realised there's no point in keeping my gorgeous Jenny Packham wedding dress locked away in a bag forever. I'm never going to wear it again and feared one day I'll take it down for a peek to find a moth hole in it!

"After seeing a call out from Lorraine for donations I decided to donate it, hoping that someone else will get as much joy as I did out of wearing something so special. I would encourage other people out there to consider the same. You can give your wedding dress a second life – and contribute to another Bride’s special day - while also helping vulnerable communities the world over by donating your wedding dress to Oxfam's Bridal Rooms. ”

By choosing Oxfam, know that the wedding dress you buy will make a difference to the environment and help save lives by raising funds for Oxfam’s work across the world - whether it's reaching the most vulnerable when disaster strikes or supporting people to lift themselves out of poverty by building sustainable livelihoods.

So pay less for the dress and shop sustainably at Oxfam Bridal this year - located on George’s Street in Dublin City Centre and in Castle Court Shooping Centre, Belfast. Over the coming weeks people can see a selection of Oxfam's wedding dresses at the Frascati Shopping centre in Blackrock - where they can also pick up amazing outfits for amazing prices at Lorraine's Fashion Relief Pop-up shop.

Book your appointment with for Oxfam's Bridal Rooms today!

Oxfam Bridal Room in Dublin

Oxfam George’s Street - book your appointment online now, or contact the shop today: +353 1 478 0777 | georgesstreet@oxfam.org


Oxfam Bridal Room in Belfast

Oxfam in Castel Court Shopping Centre - contact the shop to book your appointment today: +44 28 90 231157 | castlecourt@oxfam.org

END

Contact

Caroline Reid | Communications Manager | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165

Notes

Images are available for use. Contact Caroline for access.

Dress descriptions:

Lorraine is wearing her own wedding dress by Spanish designer Jesus Peiro. The colour is antique ivory. The top of the dress is Spanish lace with a French sleeve length, a scallop edge and covered buttons. The skirt is silk with a Spanish lace underskirt finished with a scallop edge. It has an Audrey Hepburn neckline and covered buttons down the back.

Maia is wearing her own wedding dress by fashion designer Jenny Packham. It is an oyster a-line 'Carmen' dress made from the most beautiful silk . The bodice features amazing beadwork, on both the striking v-cut neckline at the front of the dress with embellishment in crystal, bugle bead and sequins, and at the back on the cross over straps giving it an elegant, Art Deco feel. The dress falls beautifully to the floor with a slight train at the back. 

  • Oxfam can only accept wedding dress donations at their Bridal Rooms:
  • 90% of Oxfam's bridal dresses are brand new and have been gifted to Oxfam by designers and bridal boutiques
  • Oxfam is a global movement of people who won’t live with the injustice of poverty. Together they save lives and rebuild communities when disaster strikes. They help people build better lives for themselves. They speak out on the big issues that keep people poor, like inequality and discrimination against women. And they won’t stop until every person on the planet can live without poverty. Oxfam Ireland is one of 21 Oxfams working in over 90 countries worldwide.  
  • Broadcaster Lorraine Keane founded Fashion Relief in 2018 with Oxfam Ireland. Fashion Relief is a fundraiser extraordinaire that offers people the unique opportunity to bag a bargain from the wardrobe of their style icon or beloved brand, boutique or designer, more recently pivoting to an online interactive shopping channel where people can view and shop from the comfort of their home. Their latest show aired on Friday so there are some amazing items available to buy on – www.fashionrelief.ie. In addition, Fashion Relief has a pop-up shop at the Frascati Shopping Centre in Blackrock where people can also view a selection of wedding dresses from Oxfam's Bridal Rooms.
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Oxfam Ireland welcomes European Parliament’s vote to suspend vaccine patents

Media reaction

10 June 2021

Today, the European Parliament supported an amendment calling for Europe to support the temporary suspension of intellectual property rules for Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.

In reaction to this vote, Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said:

“This vote sends a strong signal that Europeans stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of the world in the fight against the pandemic. European governments, including our own, and the European Commission must stop spouting red-herring arguments and instead follow suit by backing the proposal on the table at the World Trade Organisation. Other qualified producers must be given the know-how and technology to make more vaccines so everyone can access them. 

"We have seen what happens when big pharma only cares about their profits – more deaths and more suffering. They should not be allowed to decide who gets to live or die, especially against the backdrop of emerging variants and countries overwhelmed by new Covid surges. The EU has helped the big pharma billionaires long enough, now we need to help the billions of people who remain at risk. It is time to break the vaccine monopolies and put people before profit.”

END

Contact

Caroline Reid | Communications Manager | caroline.reid@oxfam.org

Notes to editors: 

  • The European Parliament voted today on a resolution on the TRIPS waiver – this vote, while symbolic.  
  • Currently, the EU’s proposal at the WTO table is to end export bans, ramp up the production of vaccine manufacturers and remove the red tape around vaccine production. Oxfam believes:  
  1. Export bans: we support removing export bans wherever possible but getting rid of them does not solve the inequitable distribution of existing vaccines.  
  2. Voluntary licensing agreements: These do nothing to shift us away from the current industry-controlled model where just a handful of powerful corporations retain control over global vaccine supplies and continue to prioritise profitable deals with richer countries leaving poorer countries at the back of the queue. Any voluntary licensing should be done through the World Health Organisation’s Covid Technology Access Pool to maximise vaccine production by qualified manufacturers around the world rather than those handpicked by big pharma.  
  3. COVAX: This mechanism aims to vaccinate 20 - 27% of the population in eligible countries by the end of this year. It is dangerously off-track having only delivered a third of the planned doses. COVAX remains over-dependent on just one supplier from India which due to the rapid spread of the virus in India will not provide any further doses to COVAX until the end of the year. These failings only increase the urgency to ramp up manufacturing around the world which will increase competition lowering vaccine prices.  
  • The TRIPs waiver was tabled by South Africa and India in October 2020 to boost vaccine supplies and other Covid-19 health technologies globally. Recently, the US joined over 100 other countries and backed this waiver for the vaccines.  
  • Oxfam is part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a movement advocating that Covid-19 vaccines are manufactured rapidly and at scale, as global common goods, free of intellectual property protections and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge. 
  • The call for a TRIPs waiver is supported by nearly 400 MEPs and MPs, 175 Nobel laureates and former Heads of State and Governments, the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), scientists, trade unions, NGOs and the general public. 
  • Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech’s successful mRNA vaccines are set to become two of the three bestselling pharmaceutical products in the world. The companies are projecting revenues of $33.5 billion in 2021 from their vaccines. Their vaccines are also the most expensive, ranging from $13.50 to $74 per course, with both firms looking to increase prices. In an investor call, Pfizer cited between $150 and $170 a dose as the typical price it receives for vaccines. This is despite a study from the Imperial College in London showing that the cost of production of new mRNA vaccines could be between 60 cents and $2 a dose.  
  • Vaccine production has created 9 new billionaires. Meanwhile, current vaccination rates mean low-income countries will be waiting 57 years for their entire population to be vaccinated.  
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Turning 18 as an unaccompanied minor in Ireland - “it was a very dark time”

  • New research puts forward recommendations for treatment of unaccompanied minors in Europe

10 June 2021


New research released today by Oxfam, the Greek Council for Refugees, the Dutch Council for Refugees, and ACLI France sounds the alarm about the risks facing young people seeking refuge in Europe. The research was conducted through interviews with refugees, frontline staff and researchers in Ireland, France, Greece, the Netherlands, and Italy.

The report looks at how unaccompanied minors across Europe are falling through the gaps and into situations of extreme vulnerability. The most worrying trend revealed in the report is the changes to supports once an unaccompanied young person in the asylum process reaches their 18th birthday.  

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: “While for many teenagers around the world, turning 18 is a milestone – a moment of joy and independence - our research finds that for minors seeking refuge in Europe, this is a moment of massive anxiety. As turning 18 symbolises losing support due to the sharp nosedive in protective legal frameworks.

“One of the key tenants of EU law is protecting minors regardless of their legal status. This protection helps shield them from the high risk of abuse, homelessness, and exploitation. Turning 18 does not mean these risks disappear overnight, yet the protection they receive dramatically shifts. No longer considered children in the eyes of the law, young unaccompanied minors can find themselves displaced for a second time.” 

Reuben, who arrived in Ireland as an unaccompanied minor and since been granted status*: “It’s hard, because you are just learning how to live with your foster family, and then you have to leave.” 

European law ensures that unaccompanied minors arriving in Europe are housed in child-appropriate accommodation and are appointed a social worker to support them with administrative and legal matters. In Ireland, unaccompanied minors in the asylum process are in many cases removed from foster or residential care once they turn 18 and are sent to Direct Provision - where they find themselves living in the same room as adult strangers and quite often in a different region to where they were first accommodated.  

Lee, who arrived in Ireland as an unaccompanied minor and since been granted status*: “You’re not fully an adult at 18, most Irish kids are still living with their parents at 18.” 

When asked what they would change about their experience, the young interviewees noted that they would like to see an end to the removal from foster or residential care to Direct Provision. They called for a more flexible system that would take the individual needs of the young person into account. Additionally, all of those interviewed noted that there were large disparities in opportunities between young people based in Dublin and those based in smaller Irish towns - with those in Dublin having better access to their aftercare worker, support organisations, and educational opportunities.

A focus group attendee stated that being allowed to stay in foster care after 18 would be good for mental health and would encourage young people to move forward. They said that it was very stressful to leave their foster family as soon as they turned 18 stating that, “it was a very dark time in their life until everything was sorted out” (Mo).

A secondary issue that arose in focus groups with professionals and guardians was the issue of family reunification law in Ireland, which is restrictive and has time restraints which give little consideration to the complexity of family tracing (locating a family member.) Interviewees gave several examples of young people whose application for family reunification was rejected because they waited too long after they received status, or they applied slightly after they turned 18**. This whole process places a massive responsibility on the young person and can cause considerable anxiety.

Clarken concluded: “With this report, we want to shed light on the traumatic and sudden process of turning 18 as an unaccompanied minor in Ireland. You go to sleep a child in the eyes of the law, and the next morning you wake up an adult and find you are stripped of many of the supports and protections you experienced when you first arrived. The security these young people were afforded is suddenly toppled.

“Oxfam will be writing to the Minister for Children, the Ombudsman for Children and the Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Children seeking meetings to discuss the findings of the report and to explore how the issues raised can be addressed.”

Erin McKay, Oxfam’s European Migration Campaign Manager and researcher and author of the Irish report section, said: “European countries need to step up. They must simplify asylum processes, set up guardianship schemes, create professional training programmes for people engaging with refugee youth, and invest in transitionary social housing with wraparound supports to help young people navigate the extremely complex systems that they find themselves in.  

“The EU also has a part to play by introducing best practices for European countries to help young people seeking protection in Europe to navigate their transition to adulthood."

END

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the young people who contributed to the research report.

**Under the 2015 Act, an unaccompanied minor is entitled to reunification with his or her parents and the parents’ children under the age of 18. Aged-out minor beneficiaries of international protection who submit applications for family reunification after turning 18 years old may face difficulties in making successful applications for family reunification as they are no longer treated as children at the time of application (Cosgrave and Thornton, 2015).

Notes to editors  

  • Read the report and the report summary for ‘Teach us for what is coming: the transition into adulthood of unaccompanied minors in Europe’ . Oxfam will be hosting an EU event outlining the findings of the report on 29 June 2021. Contact Jade in our EU office at jade.tenwick@oxfam.org in relation to the conference.
  • The organisations who contributed to this research are Oxfam, the Greek Council for Refugees, the Dutch Council for Refugees, and ACLI France. The research was conducted through interviews with refugees, frontline staff and researchers in France, Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland and Italy.
  • According to AIDA's 2020 report, in Ireland, of the 1,926 applicants for international protection, 30 were unaccompanied minors. Numbers, as of July 2020, showed that there were 59 unaccompanied minors in the care of Tusla, the Irish Child and Family agency. A study published in 2018 cited Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Syria as their main countries of origin, with ages ranging from 13 to 17
  • In 2020 the Irish government also joined a ‘coalition of the willing’ of EU member states and committed to relocate 36 unaccompanied minors from the Aegean Islands. A Parliamentary Question put to Minister Simon Coveney on the 12 May 2021 stated that: ‘Ireland also has an existing commitment to accept 36 unaccompanied minors from Greece. Eight of these minors arrived in Ireland last June. Staff from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, along with staff from Túsla and An Garda Síochána, will travel to Greece in the coming weeks to interview 25 unaccompanied minors and 50 people in family groups, with a view to arranging their relocation to Ireland’. Minister Roderic O’Gorman reconfirmed this in a later PQ on the 27 May 2021.
  • Oxfam Ireland has been advocating for the passing of the International Protection (Family Reunification)(Amendment) Bill 2017 to address failings in Ireland’s Family Reunification system
  • Looking at the practices of five European countries the report found that incoherent policies, sparsely available essential services like language classes and difficulties accessing information on their rights severely impacts on a young person's ability to fully integrate into their new society.
  • The authors of the report also highlight good practices that can bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. One such example is transitionary housing programmes, which help young people get on their feet, and gain autonomy. In these programmes, children about to turn 18 can move into semi-autonomous apartments where they receive support to gain financial and personal independence. The report also finds that support systems – guardians and community-based programmes – can play a significant role in easing the transition. Specialised training to staff in contact with refugee youth to improve their understanding of the asylum system should also be developed.  
  • Actions at both an EU level and a national level are crucial to improving the transition process, to create a child-centred support system coordinating local and national competencies and to make a period of intense anxiety more manageable.  

Key recommendations:

  • Simplification of the administrative procedures   
  • Support to help young unaccompanied minors (UAMs) understand the bureaucratic system, management of finances and searching for accommodation. Both legal guardians and voluntary guardians play a fundamental role in helping the young person adjust and get on their feet  
  • Accessible professional training for actors engaging with refugee youth  
  • Transitionary social housing with support services for UAMs who turn 18  
  • Coordination mechanisms at local and national levels to foster effective communication and interaction  

What can the EU do? 

While this transition to adulthood falls mainly under the responsibility of EU countries, the European Commission has begun to address issues related to UAMs turning 18. These have focused on exchanging good practices, providing funding for integration projects, encouraging EU countries to facilitate access to education and training, strengthening guardianship systems as well as promoting national strategies to move away from a reception centre approach towards family and community-based care services with an adequate focus on preparing UAMs to leave care.  

While the EU funding can play a crucial role in identifying and promoting good practices, research and promotion is not enough. There is a need for a determined approach.

Our suggestion is three-fold:  

  • Use the new cycle of EU funding to address the issues highlighted in this research and implement key recommendations 
  • Promote and coordinate data collection on the transition to adulthood to ensure sustained commitment by all EU countries on their promise of employment and education for all young people 
  • Continued mainstreaming of UAMs specific issues into broader social policies and, most importantly, a Commission Guidance on the transition into adulthood taking a holistic approach on the needs, concerns and considerations in this complex process. 
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