FEARS for the livelihoods of the “invisible” children living in asylum centres across the country for long periods will be discussed at a major conference on child welfare in Limerick next week.
It is estimated that one third of all asylum seekers living in direct provision in Ireland are children, which amounts to approximately 2,000 children.
The Irish Refugee Council’s most recent report has highlighted concerns for children living in confined spaces, in an ‘unnatural living environment’, which they say could lead to depression and mental health problems.
Doras Luimni, the local group for all migrants living in the Mid-West, will host an event next Tuesday to highlight the situation of children who are accommodated within the direct provision system on Universal Children’s Day, November 20 at County Hall, Dooradoyle.
“There has been much attention on the rights of children in recent weeks and months but there has been some very glaring absences in the debate,” said Karen McHugh, chief executive of Doras Lumni.
“We are now asking Limerick people to turn their attention to the invisible children in our community – the children living out their childhoods within the confines of the direct provision system.
“Direct provision was designed as a short-term measure but for far too many children ended up spending significant periods of their childhoods, living for several years in such accommodation. It is not appropriate to compel children to live in this kind of institutional setting for extended periods of time and this practice must end. Though this campaign we hope to bring this issue out into the open, generate a public discussion about it and mobilise support for structural change to the immigration and asylum system in recognition of the fundamental rights of these children and their families,” she said.
Speakers at the event on Tuesday next, at 2.30pm, will include, amongst others: Senator Jillian van Turnhout, Leader of independent group of senators; Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance; Samantha Arnold, Children’s and Young Person’s Officer, Irish Refugee Council.
In order to give a sense of life in direct provision, an installation replicating a typical family room in asylum seeker accommodation will be built on location at County Hall. The installation seeks to communicate the constrained dimensions of life in direct provision.