More than 140 people living in Direct Provision for over seven years
Of the 6,093 asylum seekers currently in Direct Provision centres, 142 of those have been there for over 84 months.
More than 140 people have been living in Direct Provision for over seven years, according to government figures.
Figures supplied to the Public Accounts Committee and seen by the Press Association show that of the 6,093 asylum seekers currently in Direct Provision centres, 142 of those have been there for more than 84 months.
Direct Provision is intended to house asylum seekers while their applications are processed, many housed there cannot work, and receive an allowance of 38.80 euro per week.
Children account for almost a third of the people housed in the 40-plus centres around Ireland.
The system was designed as a short-term measure, but many applicants are now experiencing longer and longer stays – which charities say is linked to declining physical and mental health, social isolation and self-esteem.
The average length of time people live in Direct Provision is around two years, the figures state that 2,374, over a third of all asylum seekers, have lived in a centre for over 24 months.
The figures also show there has been a 6% increase in occupancy in the first quarter of 2019.
Sean McSweeney, CEO of Doras – a charity supporting asylum seekers, says Direct Provision is unsuitable for long-term accommodation.
He said: “Research has shown that residents of Direct Provision are five times more likely to develop mental health issues.
“In the almost 20 years of providing support to residents of Direct Provision, we have worked with many clients who have lived in Direct Provision for more than five years, and in some instances more than 10 years.
“We have witnessed the negative effects that living in Direct Provision has had on their mental health, well-being and integration efforts, with these issues being compounded by the length of time people spend living in these conditions.
“These numbers show that a real, concerted change needs to be made within the International Protection system in order to efficiently and effectively process applications.
“Doras continue to advocate for an alternative reception system that respects human rights and meets the needs of international protection applicants while their cases are being processed.”
A Department of Justice spokesman said: “In general, the majority of those living in RIA accommodation centres, have either made claims for international protection to the International Protection Office (IPO) that have not yet been positively determined or their claim has not been successful and they are choosing to challenge a decision through the Appeals Tribunal or the Courts.
“The system will always face challenges, such as the current trend of increasing numbers of applications for international protection.
“However, because of the substantial reforms to the legislation and processing system, we are in a much better place, than previously, to overcome these challenges.”
It has been noted by charities in the sector that Ireland’s housing crisis is adding to the issues of longer stays in Direct Provision centres, as even when people are granted asylum, there is a lack of appropriate housing.