Asylum Seekers In Ireland

Image Credits: The Irish Times

Ireland is one of the state that have the lowest success rate for those seeking asylum in western Europe, even an asylum seeker’s status changed to a refuge they still end up de-skilled and de-motivated.

Sue Conlan of Irish refuges says,

It is difficult to understand why authorities maintain this system when the evidence of the human financial and social cost is clear”.

About 43000 asylum seekers including children’s are living in 34 accommodations centers that are spread across the state. The centers include hotels, hostels and a mobile home park which runs by private contractors who receives 50 million annually from the state.

Asylum seekers in direct provision system spend an average of more than 3 years in conditions that are unhygienic, overcrowded and bleak. The integration agency says that they are conducting regular inspections and seeking to adapt improved conditions for all residents, but from inspection reports it is clear that most of the families are living in a single room, are not able to cook for themselves, the children are not allow to play with freedom, the youth is not allowed to access third level education and adults are not allowed to work.

Since last year’s September, the asylum seekers have been increasingly moved to emergency accommodations (hotels, hostels and Mobile Home Park) due to the shortage of capacity in the direct provision system. The number of asylum seekers living in those temporary accommodations is constantly increasing every month.

More worryingly, arguments against direct provision have now been used by the asylum seekers as a slogan of convince in opposition to the provision of emergency accommodation for asylum seekers as well as the addition of some new centers that are urgently needed to add some more space to the system. This is a serious concern and a time to call of action otherwise, they will soon be found living on the roads and streets of the state.

The education system for the asylum seekers in the state is quite worst as you may think. The children’s are entitled to attend primary and secondary schools but the state does not allow access to third level education as they would not qualify the free fee  status.  As a result most of the youth that completes their secondary school are not able to progress on to college.  The Irish department of education says that there are no plans to change the rules in direct provision. A report by a free legal aid centre concludes that “limited access to education among the youth may results in individual becoming un-motivated and de-skilled.

Other than education the asylum seekers are not entitled for regular social welfare payments, instead they receive a fixed amount of payment in a week for themselves and their children’s, which is surely not enough for living an average life. However, they may occasionally apply for exceptional payment needs, other than this payment they are not allowed to receive any other welfare payment.  Under the Irish legal system the asylum seekers are not considered as “Habitual Residents” in the state even though they have spent years living in the direct provision.

The free legal aid centre and the Irish refugee council have called for the payments to be increased. However the government has opted not to change the amount of the payment over the duration of past 14 years. The system argues that bed, food and board is provided for free under the direct provision system.

Depression and other mental health disorders among asylum seekers in the direct provision system are up to 5 times higher than in the wider community, a study conducted by Royal College of Surgeons concludes that “the length of the asylum seeking process is associated with increase in the psychiatric disorders”. A doctor named Joan Giller who was working with the residents in the direct provision system says that she was not surprised of high rate of mental health issues in the direct provision system. She further wrote in an article of  Irish times “I have witnessed the  change in the past five years in many people: from hope to anger, to despair and when people stop struggling to try to improve their conditions, then we should  become very worried about them”.

Many asylum seekers are afraid to speak about the conditions they are facing, they fear that it will damage their application for refugee status and result in being moved to another center. The life of asylum seekers is a serious concern for the state. The system needs to be improved and become more practical otherwise the situation become worst for the asylum seekers in the next few years.