Some people are still in direct care six years after being granted refugee status

More than 2,000 people who were granted refugee status here still live in direct care, new figures show.

Despite full legal status, some have been trying to leave the system for six years.

At the end of February this year, 2,265 people were living with a status in International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS).

Among them are currently seven “households” who, despite their status, have been living in direct care for more than four years. A household has been trying to leave the country for more than six years.

The figures were shared with Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín by the Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Department.

Sri Lankan asylum seekers Azwar and Safra Fuard were granted refugee status with their daughter Mariyam, 5, in August last year. Eight months later, they were unable to move out of a direct supply center in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

“We’re stuck here,” Azwar said. “We came to this country almost three years ago and went through the whole process to get legal status. We want to start our normal life and it is very difficult.

“It took us two months to obtain the documentation required for the HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) and since then we have not been able to find a property in the municipality where we applied.

“I have the same status as a citizen and this housing issue is not a specific issue for asylum seekers. It is concerning everybody.

“However, there are certain obstacles that we encounter that make it more difficult. For example, if we visit a house and ask for references, we cannot provide them.”

Meanwhile, concerns have also been raised about people coming here as unaccompanied minors and being taken into care Tusla, the children and family agency. Some find themselves in direct care after the age of 18.

According to the latest figures from Tusla, seven young adults who came here as unaccompanied minors and were previously cared for in Tusla are currently living in Tusla’s direct care and aftercare despite being granted refugee/asylum status.

Children’s rights organization Epic says, “Turning 18 should never be a reason to remove a child from the sanctuary and stability of a caring foster family after the extreme trauma of fleeing conflict or persecution.”

A spokesperson added: “Epic believes that all unaccompanied young people must be viewed primarily as children in care and should be provided with all necessary protections and supports pending a decision on their status, including the provision of aftercare services.

“This is in the best short- and long-term interests of the child and the state.”

Mr Tóibín called for more support for unaccompanied minors leaving the care system after the age of 18.

“There is a serious lack of information from the government when it comes to children in institutions,” he said.

“When a child is in government care, the supports must not fall apart by the time they reach 18 years of age.

“It is my understanding that there are many young adults who came to our country as unaccompanied minors in search of sanctuary and after reaching adulthood are sent back into the direct care system by foster families.

“That is not healthy. Imagine going from the warmth and love of a caring foster family back to the terms of a direct care center.” Some people are still in direct care six years after being granted refugee status

Fry Electronics Team

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