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Orla Ni Eili, Co-ordinator Clare Immigrant Support Centre. Photograph by John Kelly

Sponsorship initiative for Clare people to help refugee families

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HUMAN rights organisation Doras are collaborating with the Clare Immigrant Support Centre on a new community sponsorship initiative that will enable local groups to provide support for refugee families, writes Owen Ryan.
The idea is that the groups would fundraise and help source accommodation for refugee families, who can then leave refugee camps in Lebanon for Clare.
Orla Ní Éilí of the Clare Immigrant Support Centre said, “Essentially this is another stream operating from the Department of Justice and the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. In this one the idea is that individual groupings can come together, they need to fundraise, they need to prepare, they need to set all the things in place for a family to come to Ireland. The family would be coming from the Lebanon, they will probably be a Syrian family that’ll be living in a refugee camp. They’ll still be going through the screening and orientation process with the Department of Justice.”
Ahmed Hassan will be liaising with groups that are interested and groups taking part would need to raise €10,000 and help the refugees to settle.
“There’s a whole process here and the community group would be taking responsibility for the resettlement of the family when they come to Ireland, for the first 18 months or so,” said Orla.
Regarding the funding, she added, “The €10,000 is for the accommodation in particular. The family will be coming essentially as programme refugees so they will have a lot of entitlements when they get here, it’s part of the resettlement programme.”


Groups in Cork, Wexford and Wicklow have already taken part in the programme and Ahmed said it is open to any group of five people or more. “In Clare at the moment we don’t have any, but it can be any group that is interested. Family groups, sports groups, religious groups.”
He liaises with people at an early stage, because it is not always possible for groups to take on the type of work required. “You have to be realistic and see if the group can bring it forth, so I will do the prep work first to see if it is viable. The fundraising starts once we have submitted a settlement plan to the Department. Once the Department has agreed we can move to the next phase.”
Orla said it is important that the preparation is done well in advance. “Their relationship with the family would start before the family got here, they’d know who’s coming, what the age of schoolkids are, what skills the family have, so they would be hoping to match well. They couldn’t be out in a rural area where there is no access to public transport for example, that wouldn’t make sense, you’d be setting people up to fail. You’re looking at matching a family to what a community can offer. The wonderful thing is Ahmed is there to help. A group could come and say we’d love to do it, but when you look at the practicalities people have to be there for the long haul to fundraise and to help them.”

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