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

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The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has consistently urged a more humane approach to the accommodation of those seeking international protection, arguing that the human and the financial cost of Direct Provision is too high and is failing to meet Ireland’s international obligations towards refugees and those who face a risk of “serious harm” if returned to their own countries[1]. This included producing a document in 2011 for the NGO Forum on Direct Provision setting out what an alternative system could look like[2].  This proposal builds on that document.  Following the publication of ‘State sanctioned child poverty and exclusion: the case of children in state accommodation for asylum seekers’ by the IRC in September 2012, criticism has broadened to a point where there is a need to engage in wider consultation on replacing Direct Provision with an alternative system that is both humane and reduces the financial burden on the state.

This proposal addresses reception conditions in a manner that embodies the values of respect for human rights and protection for vulnerable and at risk individuals that lie at the heart of international protection.  It is a contribution to the debate that needs to take place between all of those interested in the welfare of those in need of international protection.  It attempts to balance the obligation that Ireland voluntarily entered into when it became a party to the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees[3] (the ‘Refugee Convention’) and when it signed up to the EU Qualification Directive[4] with the need to ensure that public funds are used appropriately and in a way that reduces the potential for harm.

It is not the intention of the IRC, in setting out options for supporting those seeking international protection, to advise on the appropriateness of such support for those foreign nationals who are deemed to be trafficked into Ireland (who are not in the asylum process) or for destitute EEA nationals awaiting return to their countries.  Those are matters that need to be addressed separately.

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