IRELAND: ‘It’s been cold and terrifying’ for Zim asylum-seeker sleeping rough amid accommodation crisis

IRELAND: ‘It’s been cold and terrifying’ for Zim asylum-seeker sleeping rough amid accommodation crisis

By The Irish Examiner

IRELAND: A young man seeking asylum who has been without accommodation since arriving in Ireland last Monday has described sleeping on the streets of Dublin as “terrifying”.

Homeless services have also warned that the lack of accommodation for a continuously rising number of international protection applicants is a “recipe for disaster”.

Some 83 new arrivals were unaccommodated between last Monday and Wednesday, seven of whom have since been accommodated.

The Department of Integration said no up-to-date figures will be available until Tuesday.

Mendi arrived in Ireland on December 4 having fled Zimbabwe and is yet to be accommodated.

Since then he said he has been on his own, sleeping on the streets of Dublin at night, despite an increased weekly payment of €113.80. He said:

It’s been tough. I’ve got nothing and I’m alone. It’s been cold and terrifying. 

He spends a lot of time walking at night to avoid sleeping as much as possible and uses perches or somewhat sheltered areas when he does sleep.

“It’s very difficult with the cold and rain,” he said.

He said he has been given no indication of how long it might take until he is accommodated and has been spending his days at homeless services which are providing hot meals, showers, and tents to those without accommodation.

“I spend most of my day in the day centres and then when they close I have to go on the streets,” he said.

The Light House was one of several homeless charities to be warned of an expected increase in those requiring services due to a severe shortage of accommodation.

Light House operations manager Gerard Ganley said that the centre was already “bursting at the seams” before last week, with evening services becoming “very strenuous” since.

“We’ve a lot more people coming our way, our increase is mostly at night time because obviously, they don’t have any accommodation,” he said.

Mr Ganley said the influx has been “very unfair” on strapped services on the ground who have been providing food, showers, and clothes to additional numbers.

“We were warned by the IPO [the International Protection Office] that there would be an increase but a warning is one thing and trying to cater for the people is a completely different thing,” he said.

The Light House, which provides about 400 dinners each night also provides a limited amount of accommodation but this was already filled before last week.

“You can warn somebody a week or two ahead of time but our capacity and resources don’t increase by that warning, we don’t get any funding whatsoever,” Mr Ganley said, adding that the Light House relies on fundraising.

Mr Ganley said homeless services now find themselves in a precarious and challenging situation, “to say the least”.

“If you get 30 people coming into the airport every night for a week, that’s 210 people so the mathematics doesn’t bode too well for where we’re facing into the future in the next weeks and months.

“The cold weather is hitting us too. It’s just a recipe for disaster,” he said.