The protection of children should be our priority on World Refugee Day 2014

Posted On: June 20, 2014

MEDIA RELEASE, 20 June 2014

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The intense interest over the Tuam Mother and Baby Home unmarked burial site has again brought the system of Direct Provision into the public eye.  On the 20th June the Irish Refugee Council will be marking World Refugee Day with Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, the European Youth in Migration Forum and advocates from our Independent Advocacy Programme.

Dr. Shannon has raised concerns year on year in his Annual Reports about the risk and reality of child welfare and protection issues in the Direct Provision system.  In his 2011 report he stated: “The system of support for those claiming asylum in Ireland, known as Direct Provision, gives rise to profound concerns about the detrimental effect on children growing up in a form of institutionalised poverty with parents unable to adequately care for their children.”

The IRC will also take this opportunity to reflect on the success of the Advocacy project by launching the evaluation of its Independent Advocacy Programme as well as a resource guide for advocates and others working with separated children.  This provides an opportunity to look at what can be achieved when ‘protection’ and the ‘best interests of children’ are a key priority by hearing from people directly involved with the IRC’s Independent Advocacy Project which links young people, many of them former separated children, with a mentor to support them and offer friendship.

Samantha Arnold, Children and Young Persons Officer with the IRC, said:  “The evaluation brings to light the positive impact the programme has had on young people over the first 18 months of the service. The programme provides supportive mentors to separated young people built on trust.  It continues past their 18th birthday, when young people tend to lose some of the support provided to them, as they transition from state care to Direct Provision.”

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said, “we warmly invite you to attend this event in the Temple Bar Gallery, Studio Six, 5/9 Temple Bar, Dublin 2 at 6pm on Friday 20th June 2014, to hear how protection is a right that every child should be given.”

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Contact:

Caroline Reid, Communications Officer:  caroline@irishrefugeecouncil.ie / +353 85 8585510

Notes to the Editor:

Geoffrey Shannon and Sue Conlan are both available for interview

Geoffrey Shannon 2011 report: Fifth Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection

IRC report on case of children in state accommodation for asylum seekers: State Sanctioned Child Poverty and Exclusion

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.

~ 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.

~ As of December 2013 there were 686 children aged between 0-4yrs, 837 children between the ages of 5-12yrs and, 143 children between the ages of 13-17yrs (RIA)