THE Irish Government’s commitment to accept 600 migrants over the next two years has been questioned by European leaders as the migrant crisis in the continent escalates.
Disturbing images surfaced yesterday of a young Syrian boy’s body washing up on a beach in Turkey.
Pictures also emerged earlier in the week showing over 1,000 refugees fleeing war-torn countries storming Budapest’s main rail station in Hungary.
They highlight the increasing need of countries such as Ireland to re-evaluate its position on the numbers of desperate migrants they are willing to accept.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that Ireland needs to step up to the plate.
"We can’t but feel challenged by what we’re witnessing. I think there is a requirement for Ireland to step up to the plate – but it’s not simply a European issue, it is a world issue,” he said.
"Ireland will certainly measure up to whatever is asked of us."
Asked if Ireland would take more than 600 people, he said: "I am sure we will - Ireland will measure up to accepting its allocated share, there is no doubt about that."
"Certainly we have to take people who are in absolute peril, who are destitute in dreadful circumstances."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested that Ireland agree a new asylum deal to share the European burden, after it opted out of certain asylum policies in the Amsterdam Treaty in 1999.
Ireland's Minister for Defence Simon Coveney is in Luxembourg today for a meeting with his EU counterparts, to discuss the on-going migrant crisis and the military mission in the Mediterranean.
Mr Coveney said that whilst Irish navy ships LE Eithne and the LE Niamh have rescued around 6,000 migrants from the Mediterranean, further measures must be taken to tackle the crisis.
“While our role in the Mediterranean is making an impact in the short term in terms of saving lives, longer term solutions to address the migrant crisis are needed.” he said.
“A comprehensive approach is required to address this complex crisis with a view to developing longer term solutions.”
The Irish Government today confirmed that it will extend its operations in the Mediterranean until the end of November.
Ireland have committed to accepting 600 migrants over the next two years – whilst countries such as Germany and Austria will accept 800,000 and 80,000 migrants respectively, by the end of the year.
More than four million refugees have fled Syria since the war there began in 2011.
Around 1.8 million of these refugees have gone to Turkey, more than 600,000 to Jordan and 1 million to Lebanon.
In 2014 the European nation that accepted the largest number of refugees in proportion to its population was Sweden
Since 2011 almost 5,000 Syrians have been given asylum under normal procedures in Britain
The Irish Government are expected to have provided €41million towards helping people displaced by the Syrian crisis by the end of the year.
Over 1,200 migrants died in the Mediterranean in April 2015 alone.
Figures: UN Refugee Agency, Home Office (UK)