Young People give voice to their experience of the asylum process

Posted On: May 24, 2013

Separated children, aged-out minors, children of asylum seekers in Direct Provision accommodation and Irish students give voice to their experience of the asylum process in a multi-media exhibition launching today (24/5/13) in Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1.  The installations reflect the young people’s concerns over access to third level education, discrimination, bullying and inequality.

The exhibition has come about as a result of a Human Rights camp organised by the Irish Refugee Council and Unicef Ireland in March of this year.  As part of the camp the young people also wrote to the Minister for Justice, Minister for Education, Minister for Children, the HSE and the Reception and Integration Agency to highlight the issues affecting children in the asylum process:

“We are boys, girls, Irish, Somali, Second Generation Irish, Afghan – but at this camp, we have come together to work towards making a change that would affect all children in Ireland who come into contact with the asylum system. Some of us here have fled countries ourselves, alone. Some of us have left with our families and have sought asylum through no decision, or fault, of our own. Some of us are Irish and have only just learned about issues relating to asylum and human rights, in general. We, the young people of this Easter Camp, are concerned.

“The issues we hope to highlight surround access to third level education, problems with discrimination and bullying in education at second-level and inequality. Additionally, we have highlighted our strengths and what gets us through; our faith, our hopes, our dreams and our ambitions. We have experienced, however, that when our hopes and ambitions are stifled or taken from us, we are faced with darkness that can creep in and affect our mental health.”

Samantha Arnold, Children’s and Young Persons’ Officer at the Irish Refugee Council, says: “Children and young people in Ireland are disproportionately affected by a child-unfriendly process of seeking protection from persecution, harm and discrimination.  This project aims to facilitate them in expressing the difficulties they have faced.”

27 young people participated in the six day camp during which they were given inspiration and space to think about creative models of advocacy and to create videos, poems, art and songs to highlight the issues which affect them.  Senator Jillian van Turnhout and Dil Wickremasinghe, presenter of Global Village, and Dr. Liam Thornton of UCD

The camp provided time to think about creative models of advocacy. The camp welcomed several speakers including Senator Jillian Van Turnhout and Dil Wickremasinghe from Newstalk. The groups then took up four separate projects relating to issues of equality, integration, education and resilience.

-ENDS-

Media Queries:

 

Sharon Waters                  085 8585 510

 

Notes:

  • Project coordinator and Children’s and Young Persons’ Officer with the Irish Refugee Council, Samantha Arnold, is available for interview.  Some of th4e young people will also be available to interview but on an anonymous basis.  Contact Sharon at 085 8585 510.
  • The exhibition will remain open from 24 – 31 May 2013.
  • A preview of the works is available at http://www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie/children-and-young-people/participation.