Refugee families to be resettled in Athlone

Approximately 24 families of refugees from the Syrian conflict are to be housed in Westmeath, as part of a new nationwide resettlement plan.

Between 13-15 families will arrive in Mullingar in April/May this year, while a further 10-12 families will arrive in Athlone in late 2017 and early 2018.

Westmeath County Council has established a Resettlement Inter-Agency Working Group to source suitable accommodation and prepare for their arrival.

The group, in conjunction with the national Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration (OPMI ), will work with service providers including the HSE, the ETB, Tusla, Gardaí, the DSP, and Westmeath Childcare to help the families settle in and ensure that the required services are available at local level.

The OPMI will continue to monitor and support the programme for up to 12 months following the arrival of the refugees, while local voluntary groups will also be established to assist in providing the families with long-term support.

The plans for Westmeath are part of an Irish Resettlement Programme, under which some 4,000 people are to be received into the country.

Accommodation for those admitted to Ireland is initially provided in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres before they are assigned to their receiving counties. At present, there are two such centres in Monasterevin, Co Kildare and Clonea Strand, Dungarvan, Co Waterford. A third facility is being prepared in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon.

Ireland joined the resettlement programme in 2000 and has admitted 1,705 persons to date from 27 different countries of origin, who have been resettled in 33 towns and cities in 20 counties.

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