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Still Living in Limbo

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Ireland has warned that hundreds of asylum seekers granted status are still living in limbo this World Refugee Day (20 June 2014) and calls on the Irish Government to provide funding and support to help them transition to life outside Direct Provision.

Highlighting the growing concern, Mr. Eugene Quinn, JRS Ireland National Director said

“JRS Ireland is calling on the Irish Government to roll out and adequately resource a comprehensive plan of action to support the integration of persons granted status to enable them to leave Direct Provision and to fully participate in and contribute to Irish society.”

While the system of Direct Provision was originally precipitated by a national housing shortage, a new crisis has materialised with over 90,000 households currently on the social housing waiting list.

Mr Quinn went on to say:

“A national housing crisis in Ireland at the present time is creating significant difficulties for persons with status to find accommodation. Despite being granted permission to stay in Ireland, hundreds of former asylum seekers remain in state-provided Direct Provision accommodation months later.”

In the course of a recent JRS Ireland Transition Project, among the key challenges identified for persons with status leaving the Direct Provision system were finding accommodation, navigating the welfare system and accessing the labour market. The institutional effects of living long term in Direct Provision are well documented including negative impacts on family life and children, deterioration in physical and mental health and the obsolescence and loss of skills and capacities.

In conclusion, Mr. Quinn said:

“After years spent in the institutional environment of Direct Provision, there is a moral responsibility to support individuals, children and families who have received their status, to secure appropriate accommodation and to assist them with the challenges of transitioning to life in the community.” 

In addition to the significant difficulties in finding housing, asylum seekers who have been out of the labour market for years and have had limited educational opportunities will struggle to find employment.  Caleb, a participant from Nigeria, who has spent 7 years in Direct Provision explained:

“As a result of not being able to work or access further education a person leaving Direct Provision will have a huge gap in their CV, lacking the necessary skills or required work experience to secure a job. The immense joy people feel when they finally get their papers is often followed by a sense of hopelessness that comes from spending months trying and failing to find a place to live or a job.”

 [Notes]

1) For further comment, pleased contact Eugene Quinn (National Director, JRS Ireland) at 086-8214888 or David Moriarty (Policy and Advocacy Officer, JRS Ireland) at 086-6028533.

2) Supported by The Community Foundation for Ireland, the JRS Ireland Transition Project sought to develop and foster practical and personal skills, including health and fitness, money management and stress management and to assist persons with status to transition to life outside Direct Provision.

3) The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Ireland mission is to accompany, to serve and to advocate the cause of asylum seekers, refugees and forcibly displaced migrants in Ireland. See www.jrs.ie.

4) The United Nations’ (UN) World Refugee Day is observed on June 20 each year. This event honours the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.