Lack of housing sees 470 refugees stuck in centres

Stephen Ng'ang'a and Lucky Khambule. Picture - David Creedon / Anzenberger.

There are 470 asylum seekers who have been granted refugee status in Ireland but who are unable to leave direct provision centres because there is nowhere else for them to go.

Eugene Banks, principal officer of the Department of Justice Reception and Integration Agency, revealed the figure during a conference at University College Cork yesterday co-hosted by Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre and the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights (CCJHR) at UCC.

Mr Bankssaid they were working on improving the direct provision system for asylum seekers, including developing a set of standards, based on Hiqa standards, that would be applicable to all direct provision centres in the future and having an inspection process that was “100% independent”.

Moreover, they were developing facilities that would allow residents to cook for themselves, as well as units where families would no longer have to share accommodation.

Asylum seeker Adedeola Akinbote, who lives in Millstreet Accommodation Centre in Co Cork, and is a single mother of four, said people should be given permission to work.

“We are here eight, 10 years and nothing is going on. We can’t talk about it because we don’t have the right to say anything.

“Some asylum seekers are depressed, they’re in their rooms, they can’t come out. It’s not easy. There are no activities for children, for the parents.”

Adebola Babalola, a single mother of three who also lives in the Millstreet centre, said there was “nothing to do except jog around the compound to burn off stress”.

“I want to do better, to be able to work, but I am not allowed. I have been looking for a house for more than four months to get myself integrated. But I am having to go to Portlaoise to look at houses”.

Lucky Khambule, an activist for the rights of asylum seekers who spent three years in direct provision in the Kinsale Road Centre in Cork, said when it came to housing, asylum seekers were “competing against 50/60 people who were viewing the same house”, but these were people already established in the community.

“You are coming with your HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) — what are your chances of getting that house? I had to move from Dublin to Wicklow. I know someone who had to move from Cork to Longford to get accommodation.”

Ms Akinbote said if they were housed in the community instead of direct provision, it would make it easier to integrate.


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