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Sixteen children died in direct provision

The Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that 16 asylum seeker children aged up to five years have died while living in direct provision in the last 13 years.

In a written Dail response, Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that the number of deaths in the 0-5 cohort is the largest amongst the asylum seeker population during the 2002-2014 period.

Recorded

It is understood that a number of these deaths were suspected cot deaths and still births, according to the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA)

In the Dail reply to Sinn Fein's Michael Colreavy on the issue, Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that there have been 61 asylum seeker deaths while in direct provision between 2002 and 2014 and the cause of death is recorded on their death certificates.

Minister Fitzgerald said that one death of the 61 is believed to be a suicide, involving a newly-arrived asylum seeker taking his own life in 2008 while in hospital.

According to the figures provided, Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that three of the infant deaths are believed to be still-births.

The next largest cohort of those who have died in the direct provision system were those aged 30 to 35, with nine dying between 2002 and 2014.

This was followed by six deaths in each of the following age bands: 26 to 30; 36 to 40 and 46 to 50.

The figures also show that there have been four deaths in the 16 to 20 age band and three in the 21 to 25 band during the period. The gender breakdown of deaths shows that the number of males to die during the period made up 66pc of deaths or 41 of the 61 deaths of asylum seeker deaths.

Cancers

The figures provided by the Minister show that there was one death of a male asylum seeker last year with two deaths - one male and one female - in 2013.

In a statement from the RIA last night, it stated: "The RIA does not hold or have access to death certificates. In most cases, the deaths would have occurred outside the asylum centres themselves e.g. in hospitals.

"Information available to the RIA indicates that the causes of death ranged from cancers, heart conditions to traffic accidents and, in the case of deaths of children under the age of five, it is believed that a number were suspected cot deaths and still births."

It added: "Neither the HSE, coroners or healthcare providers have ever indicated that the direct provision system played any part in these deaths.

"It should be noted that health services to asylum seekers are 'mainstreamed' which means they are provided in the same fashion as for Irish citizens."

hnews@herald.ie


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