Report calls for end to Direct Provision asylum system

Posted July 21, 2016

  • Report says Direct Provision fails to provide asylum applicants with adequate care
  • Some applications have taken more than ten years to process

A new report published by the Irish Refugee Council, co-authored by University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, calls for an end to the Direct Provision asylum system.

The Direct Provision system was started in 2000 to meet the Irish state’s international obligations on housing asylum seekers during their application process. It anticipated a maximum wait time of six months but in some cases residents spend more than ten years in the system.

According to the report, the system designed to accommodate asylum seekers on first arrival to Ireland is failing to provide an adequate level of care both during and after the application process.

When individuals have their status approved, they are asked to leave Direct Provision centres within 21 days but are not given specific information about how to find housing.

Residents are also denied the right to work. With an average application period of three years, residents who exit Direct Provision face significant problems in finding employment having been out of work for a number of years.

More than 500 people have been granted permission to stay in Ireland but remain in Direct Provision because they cannot find or afford accommodation.

The report also says the monotony of daily life in the accommodation has a negative effect on the mental health of residents. The structure and rules of Direct Provision often leads to disempowerment and institutionalisation, further exacerbating problems of integration into wider society.

The authors of the report call for those leaving Direct Provision to be provided with a resettlement grant large enough to pay for a rental deposit, one month’s rent and essential household items.

“Asylum seekers receive only €19.10 while in Direct Provision and for the majority this continues to be their payment as they look for accommodation following the granting of their status,” said co-author Dr Muireann Ní Raghallaigh, UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice.

“Although discretionary exceptional needs payments can be made available, most of the study’s participants did not receive them. As a result people were often forced to borrow money and get into debt in order to be able to move out of direct provision.”

The report recommends that customised education and employment programmes be made available to everyone leaving Direct Provision. The Irish Refugee Council provides this in collaboration with the National Learning Network.

To read the report, titled “Transition: from Direct Provision to life in the community: The experiences of those who have been granted refugee status, subsidiary protection or leave to remain in Ireland,” click here.

By: Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations