Direct Provision: 14 years on, no place to call home

Posted On: April 10, 2014

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MEDIA RELEASE, 10 April 2014

Today, the blogging platform Human Rights in Ireland will run a 14 hour Blogathon to mark the 14th year of the Direct Provision system in Ireland. The blogathon, organised by Dr Liam Thornton, Lecturer in Law at UCD, consists of contributions from concerned citizens, current and former residents of Direct Provision, law practitioners, medical professionals, childcare workers,  and advocates within the non-profit sector, to name but a few.

“The system of Direct Provision is 14 years old today. For much of this time, asylum seekers, civil society organisations, human rights activists and academics have highlighted significant problems with this system. The purpose of this blogathon is to, once again, highlight the inhuman and degrading nature of this system,”said Dr Liam Thornton.

Direct Provision, established in response to a sharp increase in the number of people seeking international protection in Ireland in early 2000, was intended as a short-term accommodation solution. 14 years on, despite the dramatic decrease in numbers seeking asylum here, we are still witnessing and hearing about the devastating impact it has on its residents, a third of which are children.

“From numerous reports about Direct Provision since the introduction of the system, we know the human cost involved and the impact it is having on the mental and physical welfare of the people trapped within it”, said Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council.

She went on to say, “There are alternatives to the current system. It doesn’t have to be like this. We need to start moving towards a solution that respects the dignity and humanity of people who seek asylum in Ireland.”

“What started as a temporary accommodation solution has become a long-term reality for many families”, said Stephen Ngángá, End Institutional Living Campaigner and a father of two children in Direct Provision. “We lack space, privacy and basic facilities. Any chance at a normal family life has been eroded; we have no control over the environment that we live in, we have no place to call home.”

Dr Thornton went on to say, “the Ministers for Justice, Social Protection and Children need to immediately resolve to end the system of Direct Provision.”

ENDS

Contact:

Caroline Reid, Communications Officer IRC caroline@irishrefugeecouncil.ie / 085 8585510

Notes to the Editor:

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council is available for interview

The blog-a-thon will commence at 7am and run until 9pm on www.humanrights.ie / #DirectProvision14

Dr Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin. His particular research interests are on issues relating to the welfare state, human rights, socio-economic rights, Governmentality, immigration law and EU law.

Direct Provision:

In November 1999, a government decision was taken to establish a central directorate “to deal with matters relating to the dispersal of asylum seekers throughout the country and preparation of plans for a system of direct provision of housing, health needs etc.“ The decision that the state would provide directly for the needs of asylum seekers has given rise to a system that has become known as ‘Direct Provision’ full board and lodging with a nominal personal allowance (€19.10 per adult / €9.60 per child) in centres funded by the state but run (and largely owned) by private companies and dispersal on a ‘no choice’ basis around the country. The system was created out of a crisis due to the sharp increase in the numbers of people seeking asylum at the time.

IRC report:

Direct Provision: Framing an alternative reception system for people seeking international protection

Asylum seekers do not have the right to work.

The average time spent in Direct Provision is 3yrs, with some waiting as long as 7yrs for a decision.

There are currently over 4,000 people living in Direct Provision, a third are children.

IRC report:

State Sanctioned Child Poverty and Exclusion, The case of children in state accommodation for asylum seekers

ESRI report on reception conditions:

“Ireland does not participate in either EU Council Directive 2003/9/EC laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers or Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast). There is no legislative basis for the system of direct provision in Ireland. The current system is based on a combination of administrative decisions and Ministerial Circulars.”

The full ESRI report on reception conditions:

The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in Ireland

From 24 April – 8 May 2014, the IRC will mark one year since the national day of action last year, which called for an end to the institutional accommodation of people seeking asylum in Ireland. The exhibition, ‘One year on and still no change’, offers a glimpse into the reality of life in Direct Provision. The focus and aim of the exhibition is to raise awareness about the human cost of the current system, in particular the impact on the children who are growing up within it.