Committee welcomes plan to aid refugees

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 23 October 2015

Reference: 01/15/16

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister has received a briefing from Departmental officials outlining the Executive's response to the current global refugee and asylum crisis.

Speaking after the meeting Committee Chairperson Mike Nesbitt MLA said: "The Committee recognises the enormity of the current humanitarian challenge both at the borders of Europe and globally across areas of severe conflict. Members were pleased to receive a briefing from OFMDFM officials outlining the NI Executive's plans to participate in the UK Government's Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, which aims to support the most vulnerable individuals.

"We were pleased to hear proposals to welcome between 50-100 refugees to Northern Ireland by December, with further groups due on a phased basis. We were also informed that a Strategic Planning Group led by OFMDFM, and an Operational Group led by the Department of Social Development are co-ordinating this response."

Deputy Chairperson Chris Lyttle MLA added: "The First Minister and deputy First Minister have indicated that there is a strong case for the development of a Refugee Integration Strategy. We also note that the Executive has been engaging with experienced non-governmental organisations to understand the experience of refugees and asylum seekers, and the Committee looks forward to hearing from some of these groups in early November."

The Chairperson concluded: "This is an important issue and it is vital that Executive departments, local government and non-governmental organisations work together to get it right for refugees, and also for local communities here. As a Committee we will continue to monitor OFMDFM's response to the humanitarian crisis and will call for further action if needed."

ENDS

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