Saturday 10 December 2016

Refugee charity debunks 'myth' that Syrian refugees will not go into direct provision

Sam Griffin

Published 09/09/2015 | 14:04

Refugees from Syria and Irak recover as they arrive at a refugee centre in Champagne-sur-Seine, near Paris, France. Reuters/Christian Hartmann
Refugees from Syria and Irak recover as they arrive at a refugee centre in Champagne-sur-Seine, near Paris, France. Reuters/Christian Hartmann

THE government has been criticised for not engaging with other organisations in efforts to tackle the refugee crisis by a newly-formed coalition of human rights groups and charities.

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The ‘NGO Coalition’ staged a press conference in Dublin today where they called for Irish politicians to take on a greater leadership role in tackling the crisis.

Sue Conlan from the Irish Refugee Council said the government hasn’t engaged with civil society groups which has compounded Ireland’s failure to properly respond to the crisis.

“What is missing at the moment... is consultation with civil society. We don't have a clue (what is happening).

“We might be the Irish Refuge Council but we don't have a clue what is happening because it is only interdepartmental. It’s government talking to government. They are not talking to others who might be able to assist," she said.

She also said the government had “misled” people when it says those arriving here form Syria will not be placed into the direct provisions system.

“I want to debunk the myth these people will not go into direct provision,” she said. "If people are being relocated as asylum seekers within the EU the only provision for them in Ireland at the moment is direct provision and it is a form of institutionalisation.

She said former military barracks were not appropriate long term accommodation for those fleeing war.

“If former military barracks are not a form of institution equivalent to direct provision, I don’t know what they are,” she said.

Oxfam CEO Jim Clarken said Ireland should be a leading voice at European level in tackling the crisis.

He said we are now facing an “unprecedented crisis” but that the response from Europe has been “paltry and mean spirited”.

The coalitions is made up of 16 non-governmental organisations including the Irish Refugee Council, the Migrants Rights Centre Ireland, Oxfam and Trocaire.

They have called on the government to take essential steps to tackle the crisis. These include developing a firm plan of action, “significantly increasing the numbers of people” Ireland welcomes here, and to develop an accelerated process of relocation and resettlement.

One Syrian national, Motasem, also spoke at this morning’s press conference of the horrors faced by people on a daily basis.

He described how his cousin’s eight-year-old daughter was killed in an explosion following shelling by government forces in the south of the country.

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