Irish Government is obliged under law to meet asylum seekers’ needs, say groups
2019-06-01 12:02:07 -

By Chinedu Onyejelem


The lack of a “vulnerability assessment” for spotting individual reception needs of asylum seekers at the initial stage of their application has been strongly criticised by an activist coalition.


In a statement, eight organisations which made up the group stressed that Ireland is legally required to conduct the assessment it transposed the Reception Conditions Directive into Irish law in June 2018.


They added that the assessment identifies the special reception needs of vulnerable asylum seekers.


“We call on the Irish Government and in particular the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive to develop this assessment, in consultation with people affected and supporting organisations, as soon as possible,” said Nick Henderson, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council.


“Around 1,700 people have claimed asylum since July 2018, many of whom have been in very difficult conditions in emergency centres, with around another 5,000 already in the process,” he added.


“Each person, under law, should have had this assessment within 30 days of making their asylum application, to identify if they are vulnerable and what additional supports they need. This has not happened.”


Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said the Government must do what’s needed in order to protect children who have been caught up in the process.


“Refugee children are often extremely vulnerable. They may have lost parents and siblings, experienced significant trauma or witnessed severe acts of violence.“


She continued: “A vulnerability assessment is crucial to ensuring their needs are assessed, identified and addressed as quickly as possible through the appropriate supports and services so that they can enjoy a happy, safe and secure childhood.”


Lending its support to the call, the Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland (Masi) added that it was time to scrap direct provision centres.


“[Masi] has always maintained that hotel and B&B managers are not suitable for providing supports for people who have survived and escaped deeply traumatic experiences such as torture and sexual violence,” said Bulelani Mfaco of Masi.


“Yet the State, which committed to carrying out a vulnerability assessment when a person applies for international protection, and for those who were already in the system when the reception conditions directive was transposed into law, continues to hand vulnerable people to hotel managers who haven’t a clue what to do about the many vulnerabilities that people come with.


“The warehousing of people without taking their needs into consideration has to stop. If dogs need more than food and shelter to live a meaningful life, then so do people in the asylum process,” he added.

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