Eighteen months after their trip was suddenly cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic, a team of Irish officials is back in Lebanon this week, to work towards bringing 300 Syrian refugees to begin new lives in Ireland.
Officials from the Irish Refugee Protection Programme along with gardaí will have to check in again with some of those who were already pre-selected by the UNHCR to come to Ireland, and carry out a number of security checks, before travel arrangements can be made.
Many of the families and individuals chosen will then begin arriving in Ireland in November.
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O'Gorman said he was pleased the mission was now finally under way.
"Ireland has made a commitment to resettle 2,900 people by the end of 2023, and my department is working hard to ensure we fulfill that commitment," the minister said.
He said the response from communities across Ireland who have helped to resettle refugees, including through the Community Sponsorship programmes had been "truly heartening".
"I want to pay tribute to everyone who has supported the newly arrived refugees," he said.
"There are millions of displaced people who are in need of protection from conflict, violence and poverty, and it is important that when we have capacity, we provide a chance to build a better life, one that is free from danger and disaster."
Minister O'Gorman said Ireland would look again over the coming months and years at ways in which it could "scale up" its humanitarian efforts to help respond to the international refugee crisis.
Those chosen to come to Ireland have faced an extra year-and-a-half of living in harsh conditions across Lebanon as the country faced a spiraling financial crisis and food shortages, as well as the fallout from the massive explosion at Beirut port in August 2020, which plunged many into poverty and homelessness.
"In Lebanon, which hosts the most refugees per capita in the world, 88% of Syrian refugees are now living below the poverty line," said Jody Clarke, spokesman for the UNHCR in Ireland.
"Owing to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the limited number of places made available by states, refugee resettlement plummeted to the lowest levels on record in at least two decades despite surging levels of worldwide, forced displacement.
"Ireland's continued commitment to resettle 2,900 refugees is very welcome, but we urgently call on all governments to expedite their existing programmes."
He said the pandemic had not only caused delays for those refugees hoping to find shelter in countries abroad, but had caused many more problems for them.
"Many of those displaced are now faced with increased poverty, destitution and widespread protection risks," he said.
Planning is already under way for a similar mission by Irish officials to Jordan in November, under which a further 300 refugees are likely to travel to Ireland.
Following the stalling of international travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 has been a busy year for the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, which has also offered 400 places to Afghan refugees due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis there.