Ireland needs to take an “appropriate” number of refugees from Afghanistan in the coming weeks and months, Sinn Féin has said.
Speaking on Tuesday, Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said: “We absolutely have to take an appropriate number of refugees in the same way as we do with Syria.
“The exact number I think that has to be negotiated.”
On Monday, the Irish Government said it would provide a further 150 humanitarian visas for Afghans under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.
That is in addition to 45 visas issued in recent days.
This will allow individuals, as well as their families, to seek safety in Ireland.
“It is a humanitarian crisis on a scale I don’t think any of us were expecting to see,” Mr Ó Broin said.
People from Afghanistan, in the asylum process, have to be guaranteed a right to stay
He called on the Government to ensure that no Afghan national currently in Ireland will be deported to Afghanistan or any other country.
“People from Afghanistan, in the asylum process, have to be guaranteed a right to stay,” he added.
On Monday, the Department of Justice said there is “no question” of deportation orders on Afghan nationals living in Ireland being enforced amid the current crisis.
A spokesman told the PA news agency: “In line with Covid-19 commitments, no deportation orders are currently being enforced for anyone, including Afghan nationals.
“While there are a number of deportation orders in place for Afghan nationals who have not qualified for permission to live here, there is no question of any people being returned to Afghanistan given the current situation.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman said that the Government had drawn up the list of the people in Afghanistan who would be receiving the Irish visas.
“We have identified these individuals.
“The situation is incredibly fluid, but the fact the airport has opened today is a welcome development,” he said.
Anyone arriving in Ireland will not have to enter direct provision, the minister confirmed.
“This is an initial reaction to the crisis that has developed in the last number of weeks and should be seen as such,” he said.
“We, Ireland and all other EU and developed countries, are going to have look very closely at the situation and be prepared to step up and make provision if there is a wider departure of Afghan citizens from the country,” he told RTÉ radio.
On Monday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “I fully endorse the call from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the Taliban to exercise the utmost restraint.
“Protecting lives, meeting humanitarian needs and respecting people’s human rights are paramount.
“All parties, including the Taliban, are obliged to, and must, respect international humanitarian law.”
Mr Ó Broin said that the Irish Government needs to use its leverage, as a member of the UN Security Council, to ensure that the UN works to avert a “humanitarian catastrophe”.
He was highly critical of the Biden administration’s decision to withdrawn from Afghanistan.
“The idea that you can just withdraw without a plan and leave ordinary Afghan men women and children at the mercy of the Taliban.
“I think that speaks volumes, but am I surprised that that’s American foreign policy?
“No I’m not.
“Now is the time for the UN to intervene.”