The legacy of Direct Provision: Report highlights challenges faced by people moving out of Direct Provision

Posted: 6 July, 2016

A recently launched Irish Research Council-funded report highlights the multiple challenges faced by former asylum seekers in attempting to make the transition from Direct Provision to life in the wider community.

Having endured years of living in the Direct Provision system, known to negatively affect mental health, child well-being and family life, people are largely left to fend for themselves once they receive their status. People must navigate a complex array of systems as they attempt to move out of institutions that have systematically disempowered them for many years.

This research, which involved interviews with former asylum seekers, attempts to document some of the difficulties people are experiencing and to inform the Government and relevant stakeholders of what needs to be done to ensure that this group are properly supported as they build their lives here in Ireland.

While the current housing shortage clearly creates a huge challenge in being able to access accommodation, there are also other hurdles that are particular to the situation of those leaving direct provision.

Dr Muireann Ní Raghallaigh, one of the report authors said, “Asylum seekers receive only €19.10 while in Direct Provision and for the majority this continues to be their payment as they look for accommodation following the granting of their status. Although discretionary exceptional needs payments can be made available, most of the study’s participants did not receive them.  As a result people were often forced to borrow money and get into debt in order to be able to move out of direct provision”.

Blessing Moyo, a former asylum seeker who worked as a peer researcher on the project, spoke of her own current difficulties in transitioning from Direct Provision, “If you mention to the landlord that you’re on rent supplement they want nothing to do with you, which to me is discrimination. We all need houses for our family. It’s not my fault that I am not working. I have been denied the right to work for seven years now. The government have to do something about this or it will get worse.”

Those transitioning also faced significant barriers in accessing education and employment. For example, the years spent in Direct Provision are not counted in terms of eligibility for Back to Education Allowances. Also, finding even low-skilled employment proved extremely difficult, given the participants had not been permitted to work for many years and thus had no experience in the Irish context.

Dr Ní Raghallaigh said, “What we are seeing now is the negative impact of people being left in the Direct Provision system for far too long. This system impedes integration and has in some cases created a legacy of dependency and difficulty in terms of transition. The state has a duty to ensure that those granted status have the necessary resources and supports to integrate into local communities and to overcome the many difficulties they face because of the Direct Provision system.”

She went on to say, “There is immense resilience within the refugee community. This resilience can be harnessed with the help of designated supports throughout the asylum process, at the point of transition from Direct Provision, but also beyond that, if necessary.”

The report calls for those leaving Direct Provision to be provided with support akin to that provided to programme refugees. In particular, there is a need for a resettlement grant and a specific point of contact for provision of support and clear information about entitlements.

More: Direct Provision

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