More than 350 international protection applicants are without accommodation in Ireland at present, according to the Irish Refugee Council (IRC).
The charity said it was experiencing “one of the most challenging times” in its 30-year history with a “grave and deteriorating situation” facing those seeking protection in the State.
“The basic rights of people in the international protection process remain unmet in many ways,” said the council’s chief executive Nick Henderson.
“We acknowledge the challenges faced by the Government, but it does not remove the legal obligation to provide accommodation to international protection applicants, which the state has been in violation of for over two months now.
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“The continuous deterioration of standards in reception centres, homelessness and the far-right rise present a darker reality for people seeking protection as we journey through 2023.”
Demand for some of the services provided by the charity increased by more than 700 per cent year on year, according to its Impact Report for last year, a period when some 5,000 email queries in relation to seeking protection were received, up from 600 in 2021.
In addition, the organisation answered 24,000 calls, up from 15,000 in 2021 - a 60 per cent increase.
In total, it said, “direct and substantial support” was given to 11,000 people compared to 3,000 in 2021.
“It is our mission to help all people in this situation,” said Mr Henderson. “We are indebted to Irish society for supporting us in delivering our work throughout 2022. The invaluable support we received and continue to receive has allowed us to be there for the people we work.
“We work with people who had families, vocations, and everything that makes home before their circumstances changed and they had to leave their country. Nevertheless, they hold the hope, even distantly, that one day they will be able to return.
“Practically, their immediate need is an international protection system that protects their rights and dignity; a system that facilitates their integration efficiently so they can fully contribute, be independent and give back to society.”
Reiterating the recommendations made in the charity’s accommodation crisis report last October, Mr Henderson called for the appointment of a refugee response director. He said there should be an inspector appointed to oversee emergency, transit and tented accommodation as part of an “all-of-Government approach” to solving issues faced by international protection applicants. He also called for further investment “towards supporting transition from Direct Provision”.
According to the report, the council accommodated 80 people and supported 236 who were facing homelessness last year. Fifty women were supported into jobs or upskilling programmes, while 131 people received financial support for education.
Some 48 people who received support from the charity were granted refugee status last year, with 24 receiving permission to remain in Ireland. Separately, 22 people were reunited with family members.