Direct provision should be abolished and residents — especially children — placed instead in community-based, family-friendly environments, a report concludes.
The Faculty of Paediatrics at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland says while the State has a duty of care towards refugees and asylum seekers, society also has a role to play.
Children should be living in environments that support them and encourage them, said the report Children In Direct Provision. Instead, they are being forced to live in an environment that leads to social exclusion and mental health issues in later life.
Ellen Crushell, dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics, said: “The effects of adverse childhood experiences can be lifelong and Irish society must do all we can to avoid adding to the stressful experiences these families have already experienced. There are also major barriers to accessing adequate healthcare due to access difficulties and language barriers, transport, and medication costs.
While the main duty of care falls on government, society as a whole must support initiatives to improve the care of children both while they are within the direct provision system and thereafter.
“Children need and have the right to live in an environment that fully supports them and encourages them to reach their full emotional and developmental potential.
“Living in direct provision leads to social exclusion which has a hugely negative impact on a child’s wellbeing that may have far-reaching effects on mental health into adulthood.”
In 2018, 1,778 children were living in direct provision, many for prolonged periods. The report says paediatricians are very concerned about the welfare of children and young people living in direct provision.
They say direct provision does not adequately meet the needs of children and their families, in terms of security, family autonomy, nutrition, and access to education and health services.
The report states children in direct provision are at higher risk of physical and mental health problems and are far more likely to be referred to the child and family agency Tusla than children not in direct provision.