Eighty-six refugees are to arrive in Mayo before the end of the year as part of a Ireland’s commitment to resettle refugees affected by the war in Syria.

The details of the resettlement program were outlined at the monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, which heard that Mayo is one of eight counties in Ireland taking part in the program.

Síofra Kilcullen, chair of the newly formed Mayo Interagency Resettlement Committee, explained that the Syrian refugees who will be arriving Mayo will be made up of 20 families. Half of the 86 will be children.

The first 16 families will be arriving in early August, and the final four will arrive before the end of December.

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“When they come to Ireland they will be six to eight weeks in a registration center before they come to Mayo. We aim to have all the services in place prior to the arrival of the groups. They are program refugees, which means they will have the same rights and entitlements to education, housing and social welfare as an Irish citizen,” she said.

Kilcullen explained that the families will be relocated in Castlebar, Westport and Claremorris, facilitating access to health care, education facilities and public transport. The refugees are currently in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.

Kilcullen said that Mayo has a positive history when it comes to resettling refugees, pointing to the integration of members of the Burmese Karen community as one of the best examples of resettlement in the country.

Sinn Fein councilor Thérèse Ruane said there had to be an integrated approach to resettlement or some of the refugees would “slip through the net and end up in ghettos.”

Ruane added that while there was a housing crisis in Ireland, local authorities had to be careful not to create an “us and them” scenario and ensure that the needs of all vulnerable people were met.

Councilors welcomed the arrival of the refugees in Mayo, with many calling for extra funding to be made available to ensure funds would not be taken from other services.

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H/T: The Mayo News

Syrian refugees: "They will have the same rights and entitlements to education, housing and social welfare as an Irish citizen."Photocall / Eamonn Farrell