Refused refugee applicants remain in limbo without right to work says activist
2018-07-15 13:34:19 -

By Finn Hoogensen


Human rights groups have largely welcomed the Department of Justice’s recent changes allowing asylum seekers to apply for work permits after nine months.


However, there are those who believe issues still need to be addressed regarding asylum seekers’ right to work.


Reuben Hambakachere, a project officer with Cultúr Migrant Centre, said the decision doesn’t do anything to help the asylum seekers who have received a negative decision for refugee status, thereby disallowing them the right to access a work permit.


Those in this situation must live off a weekly allowance of €21.60, plus an additional €21.60 for every child they support.


“The right to work for asylum seekers should be extended to people that have been here for a long time and have been stuck in limbo, because they are facing the same challenges as those people who have just arrived in the country,” Hambakachere said. “And for some, they have young children they are looking out for and those children are being exposed to poverty.”


Referencing his own experience in the asylum process, Hambakachere said many of those who arrive to Ireland as asylum seekers are not looking for work but seeking protection or refuge.


Hambakachere highlighted asylum seekers who have been in Ireland for several years and have received skills training from community organisations. But formal training and and recognition of qualifications are still out of reach.


“A lot of them have the qualifications … and they are not allowed to use those qualifications because they don’t have the right to work,” he said. “They should be afforded an opportunity [to work] before they are actually removed from the country.”


Hambakachere added that there should be more of a balanced approach in how work permits are distributed.


“For some people who have been in the system for a very long time and do not have access to those work permits, I think they should be looked at case by case, rather than just having a blanket rule,” he said.

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