The rights of the children of asylum seekers ‘not being upheld’

Protesters to call for abolition of direct provision to mark Universal Children’s Day

Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said that a working group was examining a number of options which could improve conditions for asylum seekers. Photograph: Frank Miller /
THE IRISH TIMES

Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said that a working group was examining a number of options which could improve conditions for asylum seekers. Photograph: Frank Miller / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Protesters are to mark Universal Children’s Day by a demonstration calling for the end of direct provision , which they say is inappropriate for the 1,500 children living in the State’s asylum seeker accommodation system.

One person planning to attend today’s demonstration is Sylvia Mbasinge who remains living in direct provision with her Irish-born son despite being granted residency in September due to a lack of affordable housing.

“I think the system is unjust not only for my son but for all children living in direct provision,” she said.

“Their rights are not being upheld. . . our children are not entitled to child benefit. . .Children are children – it shouldn’t matter if they are born to an Irish person or an asylum seeker,” she said.

Reuben Hambakachere, a former asylum seeker from Zimbabwe now works as a community worker for the Cultúr Migrant Centre in Navan having received leave to remain in Ireland on humanitarian grounds in October.

His three children were all born into the Irish direct provision system.

“We need a system to be put in place which has children’s rights at its core and that is dignified for everyone. . . the current system does not support that,” he said.

“There is a stigma for these children when they go to school; they are known as ‘hostel kids’. . . they experience a lot of poverty through no fault of their own so they can’t take part in extracurricular activities that other children are involved in”.

He said it was also unfair that young asylum seekers were excluded from attaining a free third-level education.

Reception and Integration Agency figures from June show there were 4,296 people living in direct provision, more than a third or 1,527 of who were under 18.

Today’s demonstration, which is due to begin at the Dáil at 1pm , follows a series of protests at direct provision centres in recent months including protests in Athlone, Limerick, and Waterford.

Last week the High Court Ruled that a systemic challenge to the direct provision system taken by an asylum seeker and her son had failed to establish that direct provision breached their human rights. However, the judge found that certain “house rules” were unlawful and highlighted the lack of an independent complaints mechanism for individuals living in direct provision.

Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the Department of Justice was considering the ruling and that a working group was examining a number of options which could improve conditions for asylum seekers.