‘I’m not okay’: 1,676 asylum seekers remain without State accommodation

Some received additional €75 on top of weekly payment of €113.80 to help pay for accommodation

Asylum seekers walking past the IPO office on Mount Street. Photograph: Colin Keegan / Collins Dublin

Some 1,676 asylum seekers remain without State-provided accommodation, a decrease of 163 since Tuesday, according to the latest figures.

It comes as 287 men were brought from their tents on Mount Street by buses to new accommodation in Crooksling and Citywest on Thursday.

After the closure of the makeshift tent encampment, about 100 men were left without accommodation. On Friday morning, two men who were wheeling suitcases along Mount Street towards the International Protection Office said they felt as though they could not go anywhere as they would be moved on.

The men, who wished to remain anonymous, arrived hoping for accommodation offers adding that they were able to pay for a hostel last night but would not be able to afford another night.

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“Even if we get [a tent] we don’t know where to put it,” one from Algeria said, adding: “The people who stayed there [Ballsbridge] were sent out this morning.”

The Algerian man arrived in Ireland this week and had been among the 30 or so brought to accommodation in Swords on Wednesday for one night before being brought back to the IPO again the following morning.

The other man, from Nigeria, who looked to be in his late 40s, was crying when he said: “I’m not okay.”

Another man in his 50s from Nigeria, who arrived in Ireland several weeks ago, was standing on the road outside the IPO, waiting for news.

He said he slept in a tent near the GPO on Thursday night.

Since a “severe shortage” of accommodation was announced on December 4th, 2,898 single male asylum seekers have arrived to Ireland.

As of Friday, 1,222 of those have been accommodated, with 285 accommodated after being “triaged” for vulnerabilities.

Some 2,613 men have received a contingency payment instead of accommodation, a temporary increase of €75 to their existing daily expense allowance bringing the weekly payment to €113.80.

However, the payment has long been criticised by human rights organisations as insufficient to cover accommodation costs, particularly in Dublin.

Although saying Wednesday’s move was welcome, Nick Henderson, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council, said those who were moved were a “relatively small proportion” of those who remain without State-provided accommodation.

“While recognising the work done, and the challenges faced by the Department of Integration, the Government must meet its duty to provide international protection applicants with basic needs, including accommodation, as confirmed by the High Court.

“While there is a new accommodation strategy in place, the pace of implementation points to a situation where we will continue to have a recurrence of homelessness,” he said.

A man from Zimbabwe who arrived at the beginning of April was at the IPO to support a friend without accommodation.

He said he was eating breakfast at a day centre at the time of Wednesday’s move and had to run to secure a spot on one of the buses after his friend rang to tell him.

The man, who is in his 30s, said many were using day services at the time, missing out on a bed and coming back to find their tent cleared.

“Some missed the opportunity,” he said.

Others, he said, “ran away” as they thought they were being deported to Rwanda.

“People feared that they were being taken to Rwanda because they don’t understand the migration laws,” he said.

He arrived in Ireland in early April “for a better life” having travelled by bus on a ferry to Northern Ireland, before coming to Dublin, he said.

Regardless of the Rwanda Bill, he said the application processing times in Ireland are much shorter when compared to other countries, namely the UK.

Jack White

Jack White

Jack White is a reporter for The Irish Times