Campaigners want asylum system scrapped

The current system for accommodating asylum seekers puts their basic human rights at risk and should be scrapped, campaigners said today.

The direct provision policy was introduced 10 years ago to disperse and house applicants in centres around the country while their status requests were considered.

But the Free Legal Advice Centre (Flac) said the system had failed to provide many of those seeking refuge with adequate funds, food and living standards.

At its One Size Doesn’t Fit All report launch in Dublin, the group called for the abolition or radical reform of the policy and a major hike in the weekly allowance for applicants.

There are currently around 6,640 people living in direct provision.

Under the existing system they are given €19.10 per week for an adult and €9.60 for each child – the same rate as when it was brought in a decade ago.

“The system of direct provision treats those who are in hostels like units to be administered rather than people,” Flac director- general Noeline Blackwell said.

“We are putting forward recommendations for reform so that any person awaiting a decision on immigration status can be allowed to live with basic dignity and respect and not experience further degradation of his or her human rights.”

With asylum seekers living in the system for up to five years, campaigners said direct provision was preventing people from integrating with their local community.

Irish Refugee Council chief executive Sue Conlan said: “What may have been suitable 10 years ago as a short-term, temporary measure has become the norm to the extent that a whole group of people are excluded from any meaningful participation in Irish society.

“This is not only to their own detriment but equally to the disadvantage of the communities in which they live.”

The report’s other recommendations include:

:: An increase in the weekly allowance in line with inflation to €65 per week for an adult and €38 for a child;

:: The granting of temporary work permits to direct provision residents if they are waiting longer than six months for a decision on their status;

:: Allowing residents to choose, prepare and cook their own food appropriate to their culture and dietary needs;

:: Providing young adults who complete their Leaving Certificate and wish to access third-level education with opportunities to do so;

:: Making public an annual report listing the condition of all accommodation centres and any concerns raised by inspectors.

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