- 27 Jan 23
The grassroots campaign MASI, the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, works towards ending Direct Provision and deportations. Now, they're forced to prevent homelessness for asylum seekers seeking international protection status.
The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) have issued a scathing statement regarding the government's treatment of asylum seekers after reports of people forced to sleep on the streets.
MASI's goal has always been to advocate for justice, freedom, and dignity for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants. On Thursday, January 26th, the group released a statement on the collapsing Irish asylum reception system.
Receiving countless calls from asylum seekers left to sleep on the streets, MASI reminds the Irish government and public that the European Court of Human Rights has "ruled that the destitution experienced by asylum seekers who are left to sleep on the streets violates the prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or other cruel punishment."
"Compliance is not optional," they emphasised.
MASI Statement on the collapsing Irish asylum reception system:
"Ireland is required to provide material reception supports to asylum seekers and must uphold the law because compliance is not optional." pic.twitter.com/PPU028OMOU
— MASI - Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (@masi_asylum) January 26, 2023
Also in the statement is a reprimand of the government for a lack of proper reform to the Direct Provision process and programme. The failing infrastructure of the program was, MASI claims, at full capacity by the end of 2018. MASI is adamant that the conflict with Ukraine is not an excuse for the accommodation crisis.
"Since 2018, the government has been relying on commercial hotels and guest houses at an average cost €100 per night for each asylum seeker prior to the pandemic. This was always unsustainable in the long-term and there have not been any long-term policy changes to address this," the statement notes.
Ireland has openly admitted to having capacity issues before, back in December. Ukrainian refugees were urged not to travel to Ireland over the Christmas period.
"What should be learned from this is that relying on private corporations, hotels, and guesthouses to address a public housing need is costly and does to respond well to changes in migration patterns," the statement continues.
There also lies an issue in legal access to services: an institutionalised division between asylum seekers and Irish nationals affect what services asylum seekers can access. Those facing homelessness on the streets of Dublin are prevented from accessing homeless shelters.
We're getting calls from asylum seekers who are stuck in Dublin with nowhere to sleep and state policy prevents them from calling emergency homeless shelters Minister @rodericogorman. Disgraceful!
— MASI - Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (@masi_asylum) January 25, 2023
Policy reform is needed. MASI calls on the government to not only allow asylum seekers to engage homeless services, but to implement policy measures like the Rent a Room Scheme. This would allow willing Irish households to rent available rooms to asylum seekers.
They also propose that the full Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance to asylum seekers not in Direct Provision, and for those that are to increase the allowance, as advised by the Catherine Day Advisory Group. Children should have access to the child benefit payment.
Finally, MASI urges the Irish government to lift asylum seekers' restrictions on the right to work.
The Irish Refugee Council has also warned that the lack of accommodation for asylum seekers and adult protection applicants is dangerous.
We spoke to @drivetimerte about adult protection applicants not being given accommodation.
🛑Mass homelessness likely.
🛑Breach of legal obligations.
🛑Urgent need for coordination and supports.
🛑Will effect all adults but vulnerable in particular. https://t.co/WzhgzwC0Lm
— Irish Refugee Council (@IrishRefugeeCo) January 25, 2023
The statement, and spike in homelessness, comes just days after the Citywest transit hub in Dublin announced they were no longer accepting new asylum seekers. The hub is overcrowded and the Gardaí were called on January 23rd after a fight broke out.
MASI previously called the site a "ticking time bomb." A similar description in the group's recent statement once again urged for policy reform and to allow the asylum seekers the right to work.
"The idleness in overcrowded hotels is a recipe for a disaster."
The voluntary organisation closed their statement urging the Irish government "to implement all policy measures that are necessary to avoid deepening the crisis."