Ireland’s asylum system needs a complete overhaul. This plan does not go far enough | Bulelani Mfaco

The abhorrent ‘direct provision’ will end, but there is still no guarantee that people such as me will be treated as fully human

In 2000 the Irish government introduced a policy for asylum seekers called direct provision, which still holds to this day. Before then, Ireland treated asylum seekers no differently to the way Irish citizens were treated when accessing accommodation, healthcare or other support – but from that date on, they would be removed from general housing and welfare systems.

Under the new system the Irish state hired private contractors to accommodate and feed asylum seekers, who can spend years in limbo awaiting a decision on their asylum claim. The companies that accommodate asylum seekers have collectively earned more than €1bn since the system of direct provision was created – with one family business alone earning almost €140m. Alongside this, the government provides a weekly allowance to pay for clothes, toiletries and other expenses, which stands at €38.80 per adult asylum seeker and €29.80 for a child. Some in the system are allowed to get jobs but they often get trapped into short-term low-paid work.

Bulelani Mfaco is the spokesperson for the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland and writes from his shared bedroom in direct provision

This article was amended on 2 March 2021. A previous version said that no asylum seekers in Ireland were allowed to work when, in fact, some can seek work.

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Category: Mental Health