Three Eritrean families who were given protection here left to embark on a new life in Ireland this morning.

The group of 10, who included four children, will be met on their arrival by staff from the Irish Department of Justice and Equality.

They will be accommodated in a reception centre with other recently arrived and resettled refugees and asylum seekers. After a short orientation programme they will transfer to their permanent residence.

Their departure follows a commitment made by Ireland earlier this year to relocate people granted international protection from Malta. Ireland's Minister of Justice and Equality Alan Shatter said this was a gesture of solidarity with his Maltese counterpart Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, who expressed appreciation at Ireland's contribution.

The Malta office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) undertook the counselling and referral of potential beneficiaries. The International Organisation for Migration - Malta took on the tasks of conducting cultural orientation courses, as well as undertaking the logistical preparations related to the departure.

This is the second instance where the Irish Government has accepted to relocate a number of protected persons from Malta. It relocated another 10 people from Malta in 2007.

The Home Affairs Ministry, through its Third-Country Nationals Unit and respective entities falling under its remit, including the agency for the welfare of asylum seekers and the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, and in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration, coordinated this exercise with its Irish counterparts.

Seeing off the migrants at the Malta International Airport this morning, Parliamentary Assistant Beppe Fenech Adami expressed his satisfaction at the successful completion of this intra-EU reallocation exercise with Ireland, which he described as a concrete expression of solidarity in the field of migration by Ireland.

He thanked the ministry's staff and the Irish Ambassador to Malta, Jim Hennessy and the Irish authorities for their hard work in making this project possible.

This reallocation of asylum beneficiaries to Ireland follows a similar exercise a fortnight ago when another 150 persons were given an opportunity to relocate to Germany.

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