What a Joke! 'Asylum Seekers' in Ireland Complain about accommodation, while 10,000 homeless Irish starve on the street
Some 650 additional beds procured to support “international protection applicants” during Covid-19 crisis
The procurement of 650 extra beds for Direct Provision centres has done little to ease fears that the welfare of refugees in Ireland is being overlooked during the novel coronavirus pandemic, campaigners have warned.
The Department of Justice and Equality said the new beds were to support “international protection applicants” during the Covid-19 crisis.
But the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) said people living in Direct Provision were still at serious risk of Covid-19 infection despite the additional beds.
Announcing the extra capacity earlier this week (March 31), the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, said his Department had been working intensively since the Covid-19 outbreak began “to ensure that to the best of our ability, we protect the health and welfare of asylum seekers and refugees availing of Direct Provision services”.
He said the additional beds would provide off-site accommodation for the purposes of self-isolation and help with physical distancing measures by reducing overall numbers in some existing centres.
“This is a critical part of our overall strategy to protect our residents,” Flanagan continued.
“At all times, we are guided by the HSE and the National Public Health Emergency Team and we will continue to do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of all applicants.”
A MASI spokesperson, however, said physical distancing guidelines — drawn up to limit the spread of the virus which has claimed more than 100 lives on the island of Ireland since the end of February — were of little use to asylum seekers “crammed” Direct Provision dormitories.
It was virtually impossible for people to keep the recommended two metres apart when they were sharing “a tiny bedroom with seven other strangers”, the spokesperson explained.
Large numbers of asylum seekers would still be forced to share bedrooms, bathrooms and dining areas in the centres where the new beds would be located, a situation MASI described as “troubling”.
MASI also warned that asylum seekers would only be able to observe appropriate physical distancing “as per Health Service Executive advice” when the Department removed “elderly asylum seekers, healthcare workers, asylum seekers with underlying health conditions from Direct Provision”.
“A mother living in Direct Provision recently tested positive for Covid-19 and was told to self-isolate with her child. She shared a communal kitchen with other asylum seekers in the centre and this made it impossible to properly self-isolate,” the spokesperson added.
Responding to this claim, a Department of Justice and Equality spokesman said it did not comment on individual cases.
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