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accommodation crisis

Asylum seekers sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin: 'I don't know what's next'

55 asylum seekers have been left without anywhere to stay in recent days.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 27th 2023, 10:34 PM

NEWLY ARRIVED ASYLUM seekers have described sleeping on the streets of Dublin, following the closure of the emergency shelter in Citywest earlier this week.

The Government announced the closure of the shelter to new arrivals on Tuesday after the transit hub reached capacity, which also followed a shortage of accommodation options across the country. 

Latest figures from the Department of Children and Integration today revealed that at least 55 people have been left without anywhere to stay in recent days, including 31 people yesterday. 

Speaking to The Journal outside the International Protection Office in Dublin city centre today, Samir from Algeria said he has been living in a sleeping bag on the streets of the capital since arriving in Ireland on Tuesday.

“It’s freezing man. You can’t concentrate. It gets into you,” he said.

Samir also spoke about trying to obtain a PPS number, which asylum seekers are entitled to and can use to access State services, at the International Protection Office on Mount Street.

“It’s really depressing, honestly. I went to apply for my PPS number; they said that to apply for a PPS number, you need a proof of address – but they haven’t given me accommodation. I’m in a sleeping bag, I’m just staying on the street.” 

“Honestly, I thought it was going to be okay [when I arrived here]. I don’t know what’s next.”

Another asylum seeker, Mohammed, arrived from South Africa arrived yesterday. He told The Journal that he was asleep on the street before being taken in by passers by.

“Somebody helped me when I was on the road. Some Indian people allowed me to stay with them for three or four hours,” he said.

“I came here because I had issues in my country. Some local gangs there threatened me for three or four years. They burned my shop and everything I had.”

Asked where he would stay tonight, he said he was unsure and that he was yet to receive an offer of accommodation.

One of those who did receive accommodation was Kal from Zimbabwe, who arrived into Ireland yesterday afternoon.

He told The Journal that he slept on a floor in a room with around 40 other people after being bussed there last night.

“We were given sleeping bags, food and bathrooms just for the night,” he said.

“I don’t know if I’m going back there or if they’re going to give us other accommodation. I’m not sure what’s going to happen at all.

“But I see it as better than where I was was. [In Zimbabwe], a lot is happening. People are disappearing. I’ve been subjected to torture for three years.

“Maybe here I might get some medical attention. After the torture and everything that happened me, I now have a lot of problems.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t mind sleeping on the street here; better than sleeping in a house and waking up dead [in Zimbabwe]. 

“I went through a lot even to get here. It’s tough stuff, but I’m grateful that at least the government is able to welcome me and will try and see where they can assist me.”

‘Extremely serious’

Today, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) alleged that Ireland is in “clear breach” of its international obligations by leaving asylum seekers to sleep rough.

In a statement to The Journal, the commission said it has written to Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman saying it is “deeply concerned” at the situation and called for the Government to “use all of the powers at its disposal to address” the matter.

The Irish Refugee Council’s chief executive Nick Henderson described the situation as “extremely serious” and said IHREC’s statement was “very important”.

“Some people are presenting with health issues and because they are now having to sleep rough, they’re extremely distressed,” he told RTÉ’s News at One programme.

“So it’s an extremely serious situation and it’s a very important intervention from the State’s national human rights institution.”

Henderson also said the number of asylum seekers sleeping rough will continue to grow while Citywest is closed.

“It speaks for itself, the gravity of the situation; it’s unprecedented and ultimately it’s a clear breach of both Irish law and European Union law,” he added.

In a statement last night, CEO of Dublin Simon Community Catherine Kenny said the charity’s outreach team was not noticing an increase in the number of asylum seekers sleeping on the streets of Dublin late at night.

“However, as with every vulnerable person they meet, our team will do everything in their power to support any asylum seekers then encounter,” she said.

She also said the organisation would “continue to support everyone” it could, but warned that its services are “already operating at and beyond capacity as we grapple with the highest levels of homelessness we have seen in our over 50 years of service provision”. 

Contains reporting by Jane Moore.