People rallying for refugees. Credit: Irish Refugee Council
People rallying for refugees. Credit: Irish Refugee Council

The NGO Irish Refugee Council has sounded the alarm over the lack of housing for asylum seekers in the country. The situation is turning those who are seeking protection into the homeless, the organization said.

The NGO Irish Refugee Council (IRC) said it is "deeply concerned" that people seeking asylum in Ireland are not being accommodated and are becoming homeless due to a shortage of space in the housing provision system. 


In the last two weeks, at least twenty people were told there were no beds for them, the NGO reports the Irish Department of Justice as saying. 

No alternative offered 

"The people affected were not offered alternative accommodation or given any information regarding homeless services or emergency accommodation," said IRC CEO Nick Henderson. "Effectively, they have been left destitute to fend for themselves on the streets. This is a clear breach of EU and Irish law," Henderson said. 

"We are working with some individuals affected who are extremely vulnerable and struggling to find basic shelter. They have simply been given an email address to write to and check with the Department of Justice if a bed has become available. There is no system in place to ensure that people don't fall through the cracks entirely," he said. 

Preventable situation 

Figures released by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), the Department of Justice body responsible for this issue, have shown a steady reduction of capacity within housing provision since 2016, making the current crisis both foreseeable and preventable. 

In July 2016, capacity reached 80 percent. By July 2018 it was 97 percent. RIA's policy is to maintain a buffer of 10 percent capacity in the system in order to accommodate any sudden increase in arrivals. This 10 percent buffer was reached first in April 2017 and capacity has been reducing ever since. This means that "the State has been in breach of its own policy for well over a year, the result of which is not being able to meet the housing needs of people seeking international protection", IRC said. 

Henderson also said the situation in housing provision "is made worse by the long delays which continue to make the asylum process arduous and painful for applicants. The average wait for an interview is 19 months".
 

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