More than 2,000 people who have been granted refugee status here are still stuck living in direct provision, new figures show.
Despite acquiring full legal status, some have been trying to leave the system for as long as six years.
At the end of February this year, there were 2,265 people with some form of status residing in International Protection Accommodation Services (Ipas).
There are currently seven “households” within that figure who have been living in direct provision for more than four years despite having status. One household has been trying to leave for more than six years.
The figures were released from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín.
Asylum seekers Azwar and Safra Fuard, from Sri Lanka, with their daughter Mariyam (5) were granted refugee status in August last year. Eight months later, they have been unable to move out of a direct provision centre in Tullamore, Co Offaly.
“We are stuck here,” said Azwar. “We came to this country almost three years ago and went through the whole process to get legal status. We want to start our normal life and it’s very difficult.
“It took us two months to get the paperwork required for the HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) and since then we have been unable to find a property in the council area we applied to.
“I have the same status as a citizen and this issue with housing is not an issue specific to asylum seekers. It is affecting everyone.
“However, there are certain barriers we come up against that make it more difficult. For example, when we go to see a house and they are asking for references, we are not able to provide that.”
Meanwhile, concerns have also been raised about people who come here as unaccompanied minors and are placed in the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. Upon reaching their 18th birthday, some find themselves being accommodated in direct provision.
According to the latest figures from Tusla, seven young adults who came here as unaccompanied minors and were previously in the care of Tusla are currently residing in direct provision and receiving after-care supports from Tusla, although they have been granted refugee status/ asylum status.
Child rights organisation Epic says: “Turning 18 should never be a reason to remove a child from the sanctuary and stability with a caring foster family after the extreme trauma of fleeing conflict or persecution.”
A spokesperson added: “It is Epic’s view that all unaccompanied young people must be considered a child in care first and foremost and should be provided with all necessary safeguards and supports until a decision is made on their status, including the provision of after-care services.
“This is in the best short and long-term interest of the child and the State.”
Mr Tóibín called for greater supports for unaccompanied minors who find themselves exiting the care system once they turn 18.
“There is a serious lack of information from the Government when it comes to children in care,” he said.
“When a child is in State care, the supports must not fall apart when they reach their 18th birthday.
“It is my understanding that there are many young adults who came to our country seeking refuge as unaccompanied minors who, upon reaching adulthood, are being sent from foster families back into the direct provision system.
“This is not healthy. Imagine going from the warmth and love of a caring foster family back into the conditions of a direct provision centre.”