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A large amount of rubbish has built up near the tents.
Worsening conditions

No toilet facilities, scabies and attacks at asylum seeker 'camp' in Dublin

The toilets asylum seekers are told to use during the day are over 2km away from their tents.

A GROWING NUMBER of asylum seekers living in tents near the Government’s International Protection Office in Dublin are experiencing sickness, back pain and distress as a result of worsening conditions and a lack of toilet and wash facilities available to them. 

Asylum seekers, and one homeless Irish woman living in the makeshift campsite, told The Journal that there has also been repeated incidents of men armed with sticks “attacking” the tents while people are asleep at night. 

Ola, an asylum seeker who has been sleeping in a tent there for more than a month, said that the lack of toilet facilities available is becoming a serious issue, with human faeces now being left on the street near the tents (evidence of this was seen by The Journal)

Ola said that the men living in the tents are not allowed to use bathrooms in the International Protection Office, and that they are being advised to use the toilets in the day facilities that the Department of Integration has contracted to provide meals, showering facilities, tents and other services to asylum seekers. 

The issue is that the two main day services being used, the Capuchin Day Centre and Merchants Quay Ireland, are 3.2 km and 2.5km away respectively.

The Lighthouse cafe is also providing toilet facilities, but it is only open at select times in the morning and evening, and closed after 10pm most evenings. It is 1.2km away. 

WhatsApp Image 2024-03-12 at 14.36.47 Human faeces can be seen on the street nearby the tents that asylum seekers are living in.

Sarah*, an Irish woman who lives in a tent in the area with her partner, said that they were sleeping in the area as it is usually safe, but after a number of attacks and incidents of harassment from people targeting migrants, they “don’t feel safe anymore”.  

There are now somewhere in the region of 100 tents set up in the area. Sarah said that the number of people living there has grown rapidly in the past few weeks.  

There are now over 1,200 international protection applicants without accommodation in Ireland. 

The State ran out of accommodation to offer asylum seekers back in September, after multiple warnings from the Minister for Integration that supply was running low. 

Asylum seekers today said that drop-in day services contracted by the Department have also run out of tents to offer, including one man who arrived in the country on Friday.

Volunteers trying to assist the people living in tents in the Mount Street area have said that the build up of rubbish, exposure to the cold and lack of toilet and laundry facilities is contributing to the spread of infections, including respiratory illness, and scabies. 

Five men have contracted the latter condition, according to a doctor who assessed men living in the tents on a voluntary basis on Friday evening.

Self-medicating

Mary is a volunteer with the Social Rights Ireland group, which is attempting to liaise with an estimated 200 men who are seeking protection in Ireland, and without accommodation. 

Some well-meaning members of the public, outside of the group, have given medication to asylum seekers including paracetamol and the antibiotic amoxicillin. 

A man called Emmanuel, from Cameroon in Africa – where many people have been displaced due to the violent Anglophone crisis in recent years – said that asylum seekers have shared out these medications amongst each other when people have fallen ill.

While checking in with asylum seekers at the tents today, she told The Journal that there is a need for qualified health professionals to assess and treat men who have fallen ill, and that medications shouldn’t be administered in any other way. 

WhatsApp Image 2024-03-12 at 14.36.43 Mary from Social Rights Ireland at the tents today.

“We are overwhelmed with how many people are here now. These men’s rights are being violated, and they are being left without their basic dignity, in not even having access to nearby private toilet facilities. 

“The Government will say that there are drop-in services, but what if people are too sick to go out, what if it is raining and they only have one change of clothes. 

“We are seeing people with chest infections. A doctor who came here on a voluntary basis on Friday night saw people with open wounds that needed dressing,” she said. 

Darood, a Pakistani asylum seeker living in one of the tents, said that the men have been dependent on members of the public for duvets, tarpaulin to protect their tents, and fresh changes of clothing at different times. 

Mary said that her group has contacted Dublin City Council about the growing amount of rubbish in the area for weeks, and that they were told that someone would visit the site in relation to these issues this week. 

Babies and families

Right next to the rows of tents, between 50 and 100 people were today queuing up to register as an international protection applicant at the Government building on Mount Street. 

Amongst them were several women with babies, and families with children. One woman said she had been there with her infant “all day”. 

While The Journal was there, an official came out and asked everyone who had a baby with them to come to the front of the queue. The mood of the crowd was markedly sombre. Even from the back of the departmental building, the smell that is now emanating from the rubbish around the tents is evident.

Impact on local business

Ruth, the owner of an Italian restaurant and cafe next to the tents, Mamma Mia, said that the past few weeks have been “soul destroying”. While it is not the fault of the men sleeping in the tents, what is effectively a camp has formed around her business and it is driving away customers. 

“Regulars are ringing us up and asking if anything has changed, they aren’t coming because of the situation, footfall is down. There have been times in the last few weeks when I have considered just shutting the doors, last Saturday I just closed up at 8pm, there was no point in being open. 

“We have not had any hassle from any of the lads living out there, and it’s not their fault – it’s the Government’s – but even still, the conditions on the street are not conducive to us doing business. They don’t have toilets, so we have men coming in here, this is a small restaurant, it doesn’t work,” Ruth said. 

She said that no public representatives have called in to ask how her business is coping. 

“Chris Andrews’s office said he will get back to us. We’ve gotten on to the city council about the state of the street, you don’t hear back,” she said. 

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who was at the tents today speaking to asylum seekers, said that he is particularly concerned by reports that a 16- and 17-year-old are living in tents there. 

“Look at the conditions we are expecting people to live under, it’s absolutely outrageous. They’ve been attacked, they don’t have proper facilities, there are minors living here, it’s a disgrace,” he said. 

Ó Ríordáin said that at this stage, it seems to be the case that conditions are being allowed to deteriorate in the area, in order to “discourage” asylum seekers looking for protection from travelling to Ireland.

The Journal has contacted the Department of Integration and Dublin City Council for comment.

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