World Refugee Day is celebrated annually on 20 June. The UNHCR theme for this year’s World Refugee Day 2020 is ‘Everyone can make a difference. Every action counts.’
To mark the occasion JRS Ireland has launched its 2019 Annual Report detailing the actions, services and projects delivered over the last year that supported asylum seekers, refugees and forcibly displaced persons in Ireland
Mr. Eugene Quinn, National Director of JRS Ireland, paid tribute at the launch to a range of stakeholders who made a difference and whose actions counted in improving the lives and living conditions of the 7,700 persons residing in Direct Provision and Emergency Accommodation.
During 2019 Irish Jesuit Refugee Service accompanied and supported more than 2,000 people who arrived in Ireland seeking safety and protection. Among the key achievements and outcomes delivered by JRS Ireland in 2019 were:
- 2,000 beneficiaries of direct services, including accompaniment, capacity building, intercultural activities and detention visits
- Outreach services maintained in 11 Direct Provision Accommodation centres and expanded to 800 persons residing in 20 Emergency Accommodation locations in Dublin and the North East
- Successful conclusion of PATHS project with 188 persons with status transitioned out of Direct Provision to accommodation in the community over the project’s three-year duration
- In excess of 500 newly arrived asylum seekers provided with orientation services, psychosocial supports, information and advice through the Fáilte Project
- Over 550 presents delivered to children living in Direct Provision and Emergency Accommodation in 2019 as part of the JRS Ireland Christmas Toy Appeal
“This would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication and personal commitment of JRS Ireland staff, volunteers and the oversight of the Board,” says Eugene Quinn, Director of JRS Ireland. He added: “I would also like to express our gratitude to all donors and partners who supported the work of JRS Ireland over the year, in particular, to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Irish Jesuit Province.”
The JRS Annual Report draws attention to an accommodation crisis as the biggest challenge encountered in delivering services to asylum seekers in 2019. This was a consequence of an effective ‘perfect storm’, with increasing numbers of persons seeking protection, a national housing crisis impacting on the ability of refugees and persons with status to leave Direct Provision, and growing local opposition and protests to opening new centres. The Direct Provision system was full.
Throughout 2019 the numbers in emergency accommodation increased from less than 100 to 1,600 by year-end. Fundamental to offering welcome to persons seeking refuge is the provision of appropriate accommodation enabling them to live with dignity.
The supports and services in emergency accommodation fall far short of what is appropriate and required by residents. People residing in emergency locations need help while more appropriate accommodation is secured.
Mr. Quinn noted that in response, JRS Ireland began outreach, advice and support to 800 persons residing in 20 emergency centres in Dublin and the North East region in July 2019.
“JRS Ireland advocates that Emergency Accommodation is a short-term crisis response that cannot become a long-term fix. It is unsuitable, expensive and not fit for purpose.”
Every action counts, according to Eugene Quinn. “If you wish to support JRS Ireland,” he says, “if you wish to make a difference to individuals, families and children fleeing persecution, then please click here to visit the relevant page on our website.”