Campaigners are bidding for Syrians trapped in their own country to be allowed to bypass traffickers and dangerous boat journeys in a bid to join their loved ones who have already fled and are based in Ireland.
Immigrant support group Nasc claims there is a lack of urgency in the government’s attempts to bring refugees to Ireland. Nasc chief executive Fiona Finn said the rate of refusal for family reunification of Syrians was very high.
Her campaign group, based in Cork, is urging the government to introduce a new scheme to allow family members join their loved ones in Ireland.
Nasc is the Irish word for link. The organization’s aim is to link immigrants and ethnic minorities and their rights.
The group says the government should introduce a scheme based on the 2014 Syrian Humanitarian Admission Program (Shap) under which 103 visas were issued to Syrians hoping to join family in Ireland.
Finn said the proposed “safe passage” scheme would allow people to “bypass the use of traffickers and smugglers and the reliance on dangerous boat crossing, providing a safe and legal channel for Syrians to join their loved ones here in Ireland.”
The campaigners said the scheme would be a “perfect complement” to the ongoing Refugee Protection Program and, through a sponsorship mechanism, would not place any additional burden on the Irish government.
Amjad Shaaban moved to Cork in 2011 as a Swedish national after being offered a job in sales. He left Syria in 2005 and became an EU citizen after moving to Sweden for work.
The last time he saw his parents and older brothers was in 2010 when he visited the family outside Damascus. In 2012, his mother died of a heart attack.
Earlier this year Shaaban applied for his father and brothers to join him in Ireland. In April his father died of a stroke only three days after he discovered his application had been refused. His appeal for his brothers to join him was also refused.
“My two brothers are older, they’re single and don’t have families. I’m capable of hosting them, I have a decent salary plus I own a flat in Cork,” Shaaban said.
“I’m contributing to this society and all I ask for in return is a safe place for my brothers.”