The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has called on the Government to “immediately” appoint an inspector of emergency, transit, and tent accommodation.
The call is in response to the council’s concerns about what it describes as “plummeting standards” in accommodation for refugees.
The measure is one of a number of recommendations contained in a new IRC report on the response to problems in accommodating for people seeking protection, which have been exacerbated by the arrival of more than 52,000 people from Ukraine.
The report says that there has been “a serious breakdown” in Ireland’s reception system, with the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) having to turn away newly arrived applicants in early September, citing a lack of accommodation.
The IRC says that, in recent months and weeks, it has been alerted to “grievous risks” to minors, women, and children.
“These reports include child-protection issues and serious allegations targeting vulnerable residents,” it states.
“Ensuring basic reception standards, and identifying health-and-safety risks, is paramount,” the report adds.
The IRC also calls for the appointment of a refugee response director, and for the publication of a plan to communicate and oversee logistics, co-ordinate action across Government departments, and provide clear communication with the public.
The report argues that a “whole-of-government approach” is critical, to avoid problems building up within what it describes as the “overburdened” Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
On the plan to end the direct-provision system for asylum-seekers, the IRC calls for a “re-commitment” by the Government to implement the recommendations of the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision.
“There must be onward, incremental, and positive steps taken towards achieving this,” it states, adding that a plan and targeted resources are needed.
Nick Henderson (CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, pictured) said that, while the organisation acknowledged the challenges faced by Government, recent months had seen “a steady deterioration” from direct provision to emergency accommodation, transit centres, and the use of tents.
“We urge the Government to take a proactive and cooperative approach by upgrading and fully resourcing relevant public services, governmental departments, and supporting agencies to ensure that we can meet the increased need,” he said.