- 10 Aug 20
The new report reveals that half of people in direct provision have felt unsafe during the pandemic.
The Irish Refugee Council have published a new report on the experiences of people in direct provision during the Covid-19 pandemic – entitled Powerless. Based on a survey of 418 people (5.4% of the population of direct provision residents in Ireland) living in 63 different direct provision and emergency centres around the country, the report aims to "give a picture of what it was like to be in the eye of the storm at the height of the pandemic."
Among the most notable findings of the report is that over half of respondents felt unsafe during the pandemic, for a variety of reasons – including the number the people they were sharing accommodation with, and the type of accommodation they were living in.
50% of respondents were unable to socially distance themselves from other residents during the pandemic, due to sharing bedrooms, as well as cooking, dining, bathroom, washing and laundry facilities with non-family members. 42% stated that they shared a room with a non-family member, and 46% revealed that they shared a bathroom with a non-family member.
19.3% of respondents noted that they had lost their employment due to the Covid-19 crisis, while 85% of respondents found that the daily expenses allowance of €38.80 was not enough to live on.
Elsewhere in the report, the voices of people in direct provision were shared in written testimonies.
"We could only tackle this virus using social distancing but in the centre there isn’t any social distancing," one respondent said. "Living [with] three / four people in the room is not [the] proper way to avoid this virus in my opinion. So staying [in] Direct Provision is not very good in this time because if one get the virus then it can be easily spread out.”
“This place is packed, people are coming in everyday and they bring them here and put us at risk of corona," another respondent noted. "I feel like our well being is not important to them. We share the same canteen, a lot of people share bathrooms and toilets. The truth of the matter is we are at risk of dying more than anyone else.”
"We are powerless," stated another. "Just sitting ducks waiting to die."
In the recommendations of the report, it's noted that the "legal advice received by the Irish Refugee Council is that obligation on the Irish government is to provide single or household occupancy accommodation as an essential measure to ensure social distancing and to limit the spread of the virus."
The report also notes that, although direct provision "cannot end overnight", the Government "should meet its target of delivering a white paper by the end of 2020, at the very latest."
The full report is available to read here.