Monday 24 November 2014

'We'd be better off in Mountjoy' - asylum seekers hit out at care

Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30

Joy Oboh who is seeking asylum in Ireland and living in Mosney refugee centre.
Picture By David Conachy.  21/8/2014
Joy Oboh in Mosney

ASYLUM seekers in Ireland feel that they are treated as third class citizens who are worse off than inmates in Mountjoy or Portlaoise prisons.

A number of asylum seekers in Mosney, Co Meath, who spoke to the Sunday Independent last week said the treatment of the young woman at the centre of the first known test to the new abortion laws is typical of the neglect they endure.

One woman told how she was left waiting for treatment for two years after a surgeon left staples inside of her during a procedure.

Antoinette came to Ireland from Ghana almost eight years ago because her life was in danger. She had a hysterectomy here in 2010 and was left in great discomfort afterwards.

"When I was in the bath I could hear metal inside me. Some of them [the staples] fell off so I put them in a bottle and went to the GP," she said.

"A female doctor checked me and said that she could feel more of them. She asked 'who did the operation?' She told me I would have to go to Dublin [to have the clips taken out] but the date was too far away. I called my GP and he told me to contact the original surgeon but he refused to speak to me because he said he was a private doctor. I was in pain but that doctor never spoke to me."

It was two years before Antoinette was able to get the clips removed and she needed morphine to manage the pain that she was in.

While she is grateful to be safe in Ireland, she says that living as an asylum seeker is very difficult "because you have no life whatsoever."

The mother of two receives a welfare payment of €19.10 per week plus a further €9.60 for each of her two children.

"We are managing but for how long can we do this? How long can we survive? It drives people insane. Sometimes when your child asks for something; school shoes, uniforms or school trips, and as a mother you don't have the strength or money to provide that, you take out your annoyance on the children by shouting and screaming. But the children are innocent and do not understand so they will keep asking. The money that the Government [give me] is all I have, but they are also giving money to the management [in Mosney] to take care of us," she said.

Dorothy Naa, also, from Ghana, came to Ireland seven years ago, echoes the view that asylum seekers are not given proper care here.

Dorothy is lactose intolerant and cannot eat gluten products so ends up spending her €19 weekly allowance on food because the meals she is provided with do not suit her diet.

As a result, she has been moved between many of the country's asylum units because of her complaints about the food.

"Here, because we have kitchen facilities, I buy my own food or the Saint Vincent de Paul sometimes give me vouchers and I go to the supermarket. The last five years have been hell for me because when I complain about my diet they throw me out. Even criminals are treated better than us. Psychologically they know that in a few years they are free so can prepare themselves for that and start counting, but we are kept in limbo."

Another man, who did not want to reveal his identity in order to protect his three children, hit out at the "torturous" delay in the asylum process. He has had a deportation order hanging over him for eight years and said he has contemplated suicide a number of times.

Sunday Independent

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