Direct Provision: The Facts

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image: rte.ie

Direct Provision is a system of asylum seeker accommodation used in Ireland. The system has been heavily criticised by human rights organisations as illegal, inhuman and degrading. 

The average length of stay in Direct Provision is more than two years, but many people end up living for 10 years in unsuitable conditions.

Aramark. (PRNewsFoto/Aramark) (PRNewsFoto/ARAMARK)

For Profit

The majority of Direct Provision centres are managed by private contractors on a for-profit basis, on behalf of the State. The numbers of asylum seekers living in Direct Provision centres sent the fees paid to private firms operating the network of centres across the country soaring to €72 million in 2018. Aramark’s Campbell Catering Ltd in 2018 received €5.89m for operating State-owned direct provision centres at Knockalisheen, Co Clare, Co Cork and Co Meath where over 825 asylum seekers are accommodated.

Mental Health Issues

Physical and mental health issues among residents are very common. Asylum seekers are five times more likely to experience mental health issues and psychiatric conditions. In a study carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons, researchers found the length of the asylum process was associated with an increase in psychiatric disorders. Dr. Joan Giller, writing for the Irish Times, has worked with residents in the direct provision system, is not surprised at the high incidence of mental health problems, she wrote for the paper:

“I have witnessed the change in the past five years in many people: from hope, to anger, to despair. And when people stop struggling to try to improve their conditions, then we should become very worried about them”

Children In Direct Provision

One third of all asylum seekers living in Direct Provision in Ireland are children. This is approximately 2,000 children. These children spend anything from less than one year to seven years in Direct Provision. Doing homework and studying is extremely hard – if not impossible – in an environment where an entire family is sleeping in one room. These children are often ashamed of where they live and although visitors are permitted in Direct Provision Centres, many children choose not to tell their friends and class mates the circumstances in which they live. These children often cannot take part in normal social events that mark childhood – such as sleepovers and birthday parties.

Image: pixabay.com

Going to College/University

Cultural and financial barriers to accessing third-level education impact heavily on asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland.  Even if children living in Direct Provision have come through the Irish Primary and Secondary Education System, asylum seekers have no access to free fees and are seen as International Students, for which fees can range from €9,000 – €49,000 a year, depending on what course you are doing. It means that after the Leaving Cert many are left living in limbo waiting for their status to be changed so they can move forward with their lives. We are calling on TU Dublin to act now and to put in place supports such as full scholarships and annual bursaries to cover travel and expenses. TU Dublin should endeavour to follow other higher education institutions such as UCC, DCU and UL who have all been designated as Universities of Sanctuary for their work. 

What can I do to Help?

  • SIGN THE PETITION: We want Direct Provision to end as we believe it has no place in a humane and civilised society. In the meantime Sign our Petition asking TU Dublin to put in place support that can make a difference in the lives of members of our community that are living in Direct Provision.
  • EMAIL THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE & EQUALITY: charles.flanagan@oir.ie – voice your concerns, let him know what you think of Direct Provision.
  • DONATE: Support asylum seekers – visit MASI.ie

Sources:

Irish Refugee Council, Masi, Irish Times – Living In Limbo, Irish Times – What is Direct Provision, University Observer – Aramark off Campus, The Journal – Payments to Direct Provision Centres Soar

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