Refugee left homeless after closure of direct provision centre

Ibrahim Musa (64) is currently living in a shelter despite risk to his kidney transplant

File image of a protest calling for an end to  direct provision,  at the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

File image of a protest calling for an end to direct provision, at the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

Ibrahim Musa is a 64-year-old refugee from Niger who has been living in a homeless hostel for the last month, after a direct provision centre in Dublin closed down.

Mr Musa is one of more than 20 refugees who were left without accommodation after Watergate House closed on June 20th. Since the centre shut he has been living in the York House homeless shelter, run by the Salvation Army.

Watergate House was a privately-run direct provision centre on Usher’s Quay that housed 52 people. The centre closed after the operators’ contract was not renewed by the Department of Justice.

Residents still in the asylum system were transferred to other centres, but 23 people who had been granted protection status and were still living at the centre due to difficulties finding private accommodation were not.

They were informed they would not be moved to another centre and were referred to homelessness charity Depaul, who residents were told would help find them “long-term accommodation”.

Mr Musa had been living in direct provision since 2007, after he sought asylum from Niger, where he said he was persecuted as a political activist. Last October he was granted “subsidiary protection” status to remain in Ireland.

In 2010, Mr Musa had a kidney transplant, and he must take medication that suppresses his immune system to stop it rejecting the donor kidney. The medication means he has a much higher chance of picking up infections.

His medical records, seen by The Irish Times, advised that accommodating him in an “open reception centre would potentially be unsafe” due to this risk, and if he contracted a serious infection it could be “fatal”.

Infections

Previously Mr Musa lived in Balseskin direct provision centre in Finglas, Co Dublin, but after consistently picking up infections he was moved to Watergate House, where he had his own room, a small kitchen area, and a disability-equipped bathroom.

For the last two weeks he has been living in York House, which provides accommodation to 80 homeless single men. Mr Musa, who requires the use of an assisted walker, is living on the fourth floor, where there is a shared bathroom.

The “crowded” bathroom was a danger to his health, he said. “I am open to disease, so I’m placing the kidney at a risk, I’m vulnerable to the infections,” he told The Irish Times. The accommodation provides treatment for residents who have had substance abuse problems.

Officials from Dublin City Council are engaging with Mr Musa to try and secure him social housing designated for older people, he said.

He said the Watergate House residents had trusted the Department of Justice and Depaul, who said they would help source them permanent housing. “Reverse is the case, [we] ended up homeless. We relied on the system, it let us down,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Depaul said the charity was continuing “to work with statutory agencies and the individuals involved” to find “long-term housing solutions”.