The State has paid almost €1bn to private operators to run Direct Provision centres for asylum seekers since 2000, an RTÉ Prime Time report has found.
Despite this, medical professionals have warned of the detrimental impact life in such centres has had on the families living there due to conditions in the residences.
Dr Paula Gilvarry, Former President of the Irish Medical Organisation and GP to asylum seekers told the programme, broadcast last night, that she has seen a delay in the speech development of children raised in such centres.
“There was a study conducted in 2009 by the Dept of General Practice in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland which demonstrated a high prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder and depression among asylum seekers,” she said.
The report also detailed how some asylum seekers, who receive a weekly allowance of €19.10, are willing to be exploited so they can make extra money. A woman living in direct provision, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that she has turned to prostitution to make ends meet.
“The first time I was paid for sex, I remember it felt really awful. That you had to sell your body in order to survive. That destroys who you are,” she told reporter Brian O’Connell.
“But when you go inside your room, you cry. You look at your daughter and you cry. Thinking oh my God, what have I just done?
“They know you are getting €19. They know you will go to all depths to do it. So if someone offers us €50 — oh come on it is better than €19.
“The word goes around. OK you can get cheap sex there. If I wasn’t living in direct provision, there is no way I would think of prostitution,” she said.
In a statement to Prime Time, the Department of Justice said that all accommodation in use is subject to compliance with the various statutory provisions, but conceded that ‘temporary overcrowding’ may occur. It said that in such incidents, families are offered transfers to another unit.
The programme included hidden camera footage from within Direct Provision centres.
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