Asylum seeker slams direct provision unit

by Ian Begley

An asylum seeker has compared his living situation at the Clondalkin Towers Refugee Centre to an “open prison”, saying his basic human rights have been taken away.
The African male, who has been living in direct provision for eight years, did not want to disclose his identity, but wished to highlight the reality of peoples’ lives while seeking asylum.
They are not entitled to work and are given a total of €19.10 per week by the State. The application process for those in direct provision is said to take six months, but many often spend years in asylum centres across the country.
Cllr Francis Timmons (Ind), who recently tabled a motion on asylum seekers, said: “I think in 20 years’ time, this is going to be a huge source of regret, this is going to be a scandal like the Magdalene Laundries – where we kept people against their own will. We need to learn from the past. This is taking place on our doorstep.”
Cllr Timmons’s motion aimed to “highlight the poor conditions in direct provision centres across ireland and also to call for a full report on the quality of life within the Towers.”
The African national came to Ireland alone. He told The Gazette that his current circumstances amounted to an infringement of his human rights, causing serious strain on his mental health and wellbeing.
“Living here is like an open prison. I have the freedom of movement and go where I please but I cannot work or make decisions for myself. I’m still in limbo and I don’t know why this process is taking so long.
“People here seem to get angered and frustrated very quickly which is not a surprise since we’re forced to live among 200 other people and restricted in doing so many things.”
Asked what it’s like to be forbidden to work for so long, he said: “From my cultural background it’s a taboo to depend on someone else to earn a living, but since coming to Ireland I now have to depend on others to survive.”
The man added that through the help of individuals and non-government organisations he managed to earn a degree in international development studies and is currently studying for his masters in global health.
“I am very honoured and grateful to the people who helped me get an education here, but I find that these qualifications are being wasted away because I’m not allowed to seek work.
“I’ve tried to commit suicide on two occasions because of the effects that direct provision is having on my mental health.But I will continue to move on with my life because I believe there’s something inside me that’s very strong.”
The Reception and Integration Agency, the body responsible for overseeing asylum seeker accommodation, told The Gazette that Government had recently approved a new Bill, which will “achieve the desired balance in treating asylum seekers with humanity and respect while ensuring more efficient immigration procedures and safeguards.”
It will also make a new framework which will enable timely and efficient protection decisions.

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