COVID-19 & DIRECT PROVISION
THE EFFECT OF COVID-19 ON DIRECT PROVISION:
As Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world, in Ireland, as well as globally, it is
the most vulnerable people in society that are being hit the hardest. By August this year 284 Covid positive cases had been confirmed in DP centres in Ireland - a ratio of 1 in 25 people, in comparison to 1 in 175 in the wider population.
Problems experienced include: Job Losses, No access to Hygiene Products & other goods, Overcrowding, high number of Covid breakouts.
Job Losses & lack of support
19.3% of 400 respondents to a IRC survey lost employment due to the Covid-19 crisis. (pictured left) The Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was not made available to those who lost their job.
Respondents to the IRC survey detailed the lack of access to food and hygiene and sanitation items essential for personal protection during the Covid-19 crisis.
Let's Help Direct Provision was born due to the struggle experienced within DP centres during Covid-19. 22.9% of respondents in a survey carried out by the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) had no regular access to soap and hand sanitiser . It is because of this we were first asked to bring donations to centres across Ireland.
Each DP centre has a shop within it. Respondents reported the extra cost of basic items in their centre’s shops as compared to regular market prices and having to spend their weekly allowance on cleaning and hygiene products.
“The prices are very high and it’s difficult to buy the essential things each week.”
“Things are [more] expensive than in any other shop out there.”
“I recognised that we have some raised prices for the products. Even they are double priced compared with other shops.”
“Everything is overpriced, more expensive than normal grocery shops.”
“I do not have enough points to buy products and hygiene products.”(1)
Inspections at Direct Provision centres have been paused during the pandemic, leading to
intolerable conditions in some centres going unaddressed. The reaction to this has led to
some DP residents going on hunger strike as a means to try and get their voices heard.
The IRC survey also found that:
55% felt unsafe during the pandemic
50% were unable to socially distance themselves from other residents
42% shared a bedroom with a non-family member
46% shared a bathroom with a non-family member
One resident said “we are so many in the centre, we go to the canteen for food, we use the
same machine for laundry. With this we can’t keep social distances.” While another struggled with explaining the virus to her children as parents have been forced to keep children in their rooms for weeks due to overcrowding in the common spaces - “It’s difficult to explain to children about the pandemic, that’s a problem on its own but then not being able to sit out in the provided living rooms because they are overcrowded is even [more] stressful.”
“There is no stimulation and we just sit around all day waiting for this to be over. There is
nothing offered in the centre or community.”
There were many more issues experiences by those in Direct Provision and the pandemic isn't over yet. The IRC report recommended improved testing procedures, the closure of some centres, an increase in their weekly payment and more.(1) I urge you to check out their report and to continue supporting us and other organisations that help solve these issues in DP. You can donate to support us here or by clicking the Let's Help square below.
Thank you to Nell Kelly & Siobhan Casey for writing this article.