Ireland received over a hundred unaccompanied child asylum seekers this year, including 66 who remain separated from their families.
There were 112 referrals of “unaccompanied asylum seeking minors (UAM)” to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for the first 11 months of 2016, according to information released to Maureen O’Sullivan, Independent TD for Dublin Central.
This figure includes 19 children who Tusla found to be over 18 or turned out not to be asylum seekers.
Tusla reunited 27 children with family members living in Ireland after carrying out safety checks.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone confirmed to Ms O’Sullivan that this left 66 unaccompanied children in State care.
Another 74 asylum seekers who are no longer minors are accessing aftercare support with Tusla, she said.
The number of unaccompanied minors is set to increase in 2017 due to the Government’s commitment to take up to 200 children from the notorious refugee camp in Calais, France, known as the Jungle.
Ireland has also promised to take 20 unaccompanied children from refugee camps in Greece.
Tusla has said it needs significant additional resources to deal with the extra intake of children, including the doubling in size of the unit which cares for unaccompanied minors.