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ACTION FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE. January 2014 | Published By Comhlámh | ISSUE 93

A day of action against Direct Provision Photo credit: Irish Refugee Council

COLM ASHE. Comhlámh Staff


Lives Put On Hold.

Ireland’s Direct Provision System Is Leaving People In Limbo For Years. RORY HALPIN SPIRASI.


etween 1993 a nd 2000, the number of people seeking asylum in Ireland went from 6 a year to just fewer than 11,000 a year. In the late 90s, as a means of dealing with the unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers, the Irish State set up the Direct Provision system. Through this system, asylum seekers receive full board accommodation and personal allowances of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child per week. While they wait for a decision with regard to their applications asylum seekers are forbidden to work and have only limited access to education. One asylum seeker says, “I am a qualified medical doctor. At least I was when I left my country 4 years ago. I would now have to retrain if I was to work as a doctor. I feel I am wasting my

life away. I want to work. I want to contribute”. The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) is the government agency that was set up to manage and run the system of Direct Provision. At the end of June 2013 there were a total of 34 accommodation centres spread throughout 16 counties. These housed approximately 4,600 asylum seekers, 1,500 of which were children. Of these 34 only three were ‘purpose built’ with the rest comprising of former hotels, hostels, convents and holiday camps. The result is that residents are often living in over-crowded situations with little or no privacy and inadequate facilities, especially for children. One woman, who has been in Direct Provision for 3 years, comments, “I have seen children acting out in a sexual way. They obviously see the things their parents are doing because there is too much overcrowding – this is just not right”.

man put it, ‘Sometimes I think It is fair to say that Direct we would be better off in prison. Provision was set up with the At least in prison you know when intention of being a temporary you’re going to be released’. accommodation solution, the The solution to thinking being that asylum this is twofold. seekers would be in Firstly, to the system no improve the longer than a “Sometimes I think we legal system year. However, would be better off in because of prison. At least in prison so that processing limited resources you know when you’re applications and a widely going to be released” is acknowledged accelerated. inadequate legal In this regard framework, it is to be hoped that delays in processing the proposed ‘Single Protection asylum applications are both Procedure’ bill which has been commonplace and prolonged, to the extent that people often have to in process since 2006 is enacted as a matter of urgency. Secondly, wait several years for a definitive enough resources should be decision. The human suffering given to the 4,600 asylum seekers caused by these delays is not to currently in Direct Provision so be underestimated. Deterioration that their legal process can be in both mental and physical expedited as soon as possible to health of asylum seekers is well allow people resume lives, whether documented, with elevated levels here or back in their countries of of depression and anxiety the most origin, that have been put on hold. common ill effects. As one young

he collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh last April, brought the working conditions of textile workers in Asia to the forefront of public attention. There was public outcry as the plight of these workers, and the global fashion brands involved in perpetuating it, became public knowledge. This moved the issue up the international agenda and sent ripples across the industry. In Cambodia tens of thousands of workers took to the streets in protest, demanding that a living wage be paid to them. In the photo above a striking garment worker shows spent cartridges from police and military shootings against recent demonstrations. The strike action has threatened to bring the country’s main export industry to its knees. This coupled with the increased pressure on Western brands has put the workers in an improved position to negotiate their conditions. Recently some Western brands have condemned the government crackdown on the strikes, which left a number of people dead, and expressed support to minimum-wage reforms. These are very small steps in a movement that must essentially bring exponential change to a global manufacturing chain but it’s a step in the right direction.


Focus93 January 2014  

Comhlamh's new look Focus magazine, featuring articles on direct provision, Banulucht, HIV treatment in Namibia and more.

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