Contingency plans in full swing to assist Kosovan refugees
Liz O'Donnell TD, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, said today that she is progressing urgently assistance for the Kosovan refugees. "I have been in contact today with the UNHCR to discuss how best to assist ethnic Albanian people on the ground and to provide refuge for them in Ireland in accordance with their needs", the Minister said.
Ireland was represented at a Donors' Meeting today to assess the overall humanitarian needs. The Minister said: "The outcome of this will inform our discussions tomorrow with the aid agencies".
A meeting took place today in the Department of Foreign Affairs to plan the immediate arrangements for bringing in Kosovan refugees. All the key Departments and bodies concerned with the refugee issue were represented including Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Health and Children; Social Community and Family Affairs; Environment and Local Government; Defence as well as the UNHCR, the Refugee Agency, the Eastern Health Board and the Irish Red Cross Society.
At the meeting, potential accommodation was identified in a number of areas around the country and these premises will be visited and inspected within the next few days with a view to having them ready for the reception of refugees very shortly. Other issues such as health, languages and trauma counselling were also explored.
The Minister of State said "we are working closely with our European partners and the aid agencies to provide support and safety to as many Kosovan refugees as we are asked to. I would fully expect that communities throughout the country respond with generosity and hospitality".