Accommodation issues force 400 to stay in direct provision
Irish Refugee Council highlights lack of support for people who were granted asylum
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald: said significant progress had been made in resolving long-stay asylum cases. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
More than 400 people who have been granted asylum are still living in direct provision centres because they have been unable to find suitable or affordable accommodation.
The total number in direct provision fell by 89 in the year to the end of March to 4,463, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said in reply to a Dáil question from Fianna Fáil TD Fiona O’Loughlin.
“The total for 2017 includes just over 400 persons who have permission to remain in the State and are in transit to independent living,” she said.
The direct provision system was established in April 2000 and sees asylum seekers accommodated in privately-operated centres . Meals are provided and asylum seekers are entitled to €19.10 per adult per week, with a lower rate for children. Eight contractors operating the network of direct provision centres were paid a total of €43.5 million last year.
People living in the system are not allowed to work or to engage in education beyond Leaving Certificate, with many remaining in the system, which has been condemned by numerous human rights organisations, for up to a decade.
Caroline Reid of the Irish Refugee Council said the organisation was aware of many people who had been granted asylum but could not leave direct provision as they were unable to find suitable or affordable accommodation.
“They are facing a real lack of support,” she said.
Ms Reid added that people recently granted asylum face additional barriers when trying to rent properties as they lack the references landlords usually require. She said those in direct provision could also not access full social welfare supports while still living in the centres.
A report by the council last year, drawing on interviews with 22 former asylum seekers, found those granted refugee status were often “ill-prepared” to leave after the “systemic infantilisation and loss of autonomy while in direct provision”.
In her reply, Ms Fitzgerald said significant progress had been made in resolving long-stay asylum cases. She said the number of people in direct provision for more than five years had fallen from 998 to 564. The number of people arriving in the State seeking asylum who were moved to direct provision fell by 210 to 1,709.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) reported a 17 per cent increase in the number of people deported from the State last year, with 428 failed asylum seekers and illegal migrants among the 4,446 cases. Separately, 42 asylum seekers were transferred to the EU member state in which they first applied for asylum.