Donegal Refugee Resettlement Project

The worst humanitarian crisis of our time has seen more than 11 million people either displaced or killed since March 2011 and 4.8 million people registered with the UNHCR, having crossed borders in search of refuge from conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

The Irish Government is committed to receiving approximately 4,000 people through the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. This follows a decision in 2015 by the European Commission for member states to admit refugees as part of the UNHCR Resettlement Programme.

In Ireland, the process is facilitated by the Department of Justice following a selection and screening process in UNHCR camps. This screening includes health and education needs assessment with background security checks.

The resettlement team of the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration (OPMI), identifies and prepares receiving communities, working at a local level through the Local Authorities who have a role in community development and social inclusion.

In Donegal, A Refugee Resettlement Project is being co-financed by the European Commission under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020 and is supported by the Department of Justice and Equality.

Under the programme, 39 families have resettled in Donegal with more families expected in the coming months. This number comprises of 199 individuals (88 adults and 111 children).

  • 37 families are Syrian (all speak Arabic)
  • 2 families are Iraqi (do not speak Arabic – 11 family speaks Kurdish Sorani and the other Kurdish Kurmanji)

These families have been resettled in a phased basis in different areas of the county including Letterkenny, Carndonagh, Ballybofey and Stranorlar with children attending local pre-schools, primary schools and secondary schools.

The families undertake an initial language and orientation programme when they arrive in Ireland organised by the Department of Justice, before being resettled to County Donegal. As Programme Refugees who have been invited to Ireland, the refugees will have the same rights as Irish citizens to education, housing, health, social welfare and employment services.

The Donegal Refugee Resettlement Project

Donegal County Council has been requested by the Department of Justice and Equality to act as the lead agency supporting the resettlement of UNHCR Programme Refugees in Donegal.

The Department’s “Irish Refugee Protection Programme” (IRPP) is working through Local Authorities and local agencies in a number of counties to facilitate the integration and resettlement of refugees through this programme.

The Donegal Refugee Resettlement Project will support refugees who will be resettled in County Donegal.

The refugees will comprise families who are coming from UNHCR camps having been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict.

Donegal County Council is managing the delivery of the project in Donegal.

Donegal Interagency Resettlement Working Group

The Donegal Refugee Resettlement Project will be steered and monitored by the Donegal Interagency Resettlement Working Group.

The Working Group includes representatives from Donegal County Council, HSE, ETB, An Garda Síochána, Department of Social Protection, Túsla, Department of Justice & Equality and Donegal County Childcare Committee.

Donegal Local Development’s Role

Donegal Local Development CLG (DLDC) will work in partnership with Donegal County Council and the Donegal Interagency Resettlement Working Group to support the implementation of the Donegal Refugee Resettlement Project in Donegal. DLDC will provide Resettlement Support Services for families, to support recently arrived refugees who will be resettled in Co. Donegal. This work will build on the experience of other Local Development Company’s nationally who have supported resettlement programmes across Ireland.

A Resettlement Worker and an Intercultural Worker implement the local Resettlement Programme in Donegal as part of a project which commenced in July 2017.

The overall objective of the programme is to ensure that refugees can settle into the community, can access services appropriately and build lasting relationships with the local community.

DLDC manage the implementation of resettlement support services and the associated programme on behalf of Donegal County Council and in liaison with the Resettlement Interagency Working Group.

Resettlement Support Services

Resettlement support services will include, but will not be limited to the following:

  • Supporting the inclusion of refugees in mainstream service provision.
  • Assisting the refugees to negotiate the early months post resettlement.
  • Providing information on local services and identifying and seeking to address any gaps particularly for non-English speaking clients.
  • Assisting the refugees to access statutory services at a local level and other services required to facilitate normal day to day living.
  • Establishing community based support networks.
  • Recruiting and training volunteers to support and befriend the refugees in the long term.
  • Supporting the refugees to adjust to a new community and culture.
  • Setting up a range of targeted initiatives to assist the refugee adults and children to adapt to living in County Donegal.
  • Organising after-schools club for teenagers and older primary school children.
  • Guiding the refugees as they negotiate life in a new environment.
  • Monitoring and recording issues arising, responses and challenges both for the service providers and the refugees – developing solutions for future learning.
  • Ensuring that children can participate in local sporting activities with other children living in the locality.
  • Arranging for interpretation services to ensure that service providers and refugees can have proper communication.
  • Arranging for childcare to facilitate parent’s participation in English language and orientation training to enable them to better integrate with the local community.
  • Linking refugees into local programmes, activities and community organisations such as football clubs, youth clubs etc.
  • Mentoring the refugees so that they can manage their own lives by the end of the project.
  • Other support services i.e. language interpretation, anti-racism training for host communities, supporting participation in activities.


For Further Information:

For further information on the Donegal Refugee Resettlement Project please contact:

Donegal Local Development CLG.

1 Millennium Court

Pearse Road


Co. Donegal

Tel. 07491 27056


This project is co-financed by the European Commission under the  Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and supported by the Department of Justice and Equality.