Published on 13 March 2019
Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has today published a report on his Office’s experience of dealing with complaints from refugees and asylum seekers living in direct provision centres in 2018.
The Ombudsman received 148 complaints from residents last year. Most complaints related to the refusal of requests to transfer to other centres (32), facilities at direct provision centres (20), accommodation (14) and refusal to readmit residents to centres (13).
The Ombudsman also received complaints from residents about food, lack of cooking facilities and availability of transport.
In the report, the Ombudsman notes the positive impact that the ‘right to work’ has had for some residents and the resulting improved mood at many centres. However residents who are in paid employment will be asked to pay a proportion of the cost of providing accommodation in line with their income. The charges will be published by the Reception and Integration Agency. Any complaint about the calculation of the charges can be examined by the Ombudsman.
The increase in the number of people seeking asylum in 2018 has led to pressures on the direct provision system. The Ombudsman reiterated his view that direct provision is not a suitable long-term system for those waiting for a decision on their asylum application.
In 2018 the Ombudsman continued his Office’s programme of visits to centres. During visits, residents were given an opportunity to speak directly to Ombudsman staff with many additional complaints being resolved on-the-spot.
‘The Ombudsman and Direct Provision: Update for 2018’ summarises just some of the cases the Ombudsman dealt with including:
A man living in a direct provision centre visited the Office of the Ombudsman in Dublin after being refused accommodation in his current direct provision centre. He had nowhere to sleep that night. Confusion had arisen after the man requested a transfer to another accommodation centre to be with his partner. The man’s current accommodation centre had decided that he had abandoned his room despite the man informing the centre that he was visiting his partner. The man said he would have nowhere to sleep until his transfer request was decided.
The Ombudsman immediately contacted the Reception and Integration Agency. Later that day RIA issued a letter approving the man’s transfer request. The Ombudsman contacted the man who pointed out that he would still have nowhere to sleep that night. The Ombudsman requested a copy of the letter from RIA and then sent a copy of the letter to the man’s email address. He also advised him to contact his partner’s accommodation centre to confirm that it would accept a copy of the letter before making his way there. The man was admitted to the centre later that evening and reunited with his partner.
The full report is available at www.ombudsman.