Ireland’s protection system is in crisis, the refugee council warns

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has warned in recent months of “serious risks” for women and children seeking refuge and international protection in Ireland.

In a report published today, the Council said Ireland’s protection system was in a “crisis” and that the situation was “extremely serious and unprecedented”.

It also warned of the “deteriorating” standard of accommodation over the past six months, as people have been forced to sleep on floors and chairs in some transit centres.

Chief Executive Officer Nick Henderson said about 15,000 people live in all different types of asylum shelters across the country.

He said 8,500 people are currently living in shelters, compared to 6,500 people in direct care.

The IRC said it was “extremely concerned” about the welfare of vulnerable groups who are being held in centers that are “inadequate for the purpose”.

Those reports included “child protection issues and serious allegations against vulnerable residents.”

“We don’t say this lightly, and our particular concern is overcrowding. For example, Citywest itself has 370 beds and 18 showers, but 735 people live there,” Henderson said.

“That in itself raises significant concerns, we have concerns about the situation of children. We’ve had reports of children sharing living space and, in one location, actually a larger bedroom with non-adult family members.

“This has led to parents trying to build makeshift shelters for their family space, including sheets for example.”

Mr Henderson said the council was most concerned about emergency shelters.

He said the council has “genuine concerns” about “so-called transit hotels” that will house large numbers of people together.

Figures released Monday by the Central Statistics Office show there are over 54,000 Ukrainian refugees in Ireland.

“Where we have the most concern is what is termed emergency accommodation, so it can be anything from hotels that have been in use for a number of years to B&Bs,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“But also where we have particular concerns are the larger so-called transit hotels, such as Citywest and Red Crow.

“We have real concerns about the deteriorating nature of the accommodations being provided, from direct provision through these hotels to transit centers to tents that are still used by the state.”

Mr Henderson said this was a “crisis” but one that could be dealt with by implementing certain measures.

The IRC said a “whole-of-government” approach to dealing with the crisis was “vital” and that a refugee response director should be appointed to communicate and oversee logistics.

“We recommend the appointment of an inspector to ensure that standards particularly related to child protection, health and safety are used to inspect these transit and emergency centers,” he said.

“We urge the government to take a proactive and collaborative approach in upgrading and fully resourced the relevant public services, government departments and supporting agencies to ensure we can meet the increased needs.

“By implementing the actions recommended here, the government can begin to advance its commitment to ending direct deployment while enhancing states’ ability to take emergency response as they arise.” Ireland’s protection system is in crisis, the refugee council warns

Fry Electronics Team

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