The warm welcome Ireland is showing Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion highlights the ‘hypocrisy’ of the State’s immigration system, according to the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, MASI co-founder Lucky Khambule said the Government’s response to the Ukraine war shows it can provide more compassionate support to asylum seekers from other countries.
He voiced solidarity with the people of Ukraine and praised the Irish response to the war – but said the country now needs to show the same compassion to people arriving in from other conflict zones.
“We need to remember that there are people stuck in emergency hotels and Direct Provision for months and months with no services at all provided to them,” he said.
“We welcome the response of the Government in terms of the services that are needed to take care of the refugees that are coming from Ukraine. We welcome the way they have expedited services so they can carry on with their lives here.
“But, in the same vein, we believe that same urgency which the government has proven it can be able to do, they have not done that for other people that came into this country.”
Two-tier asylum system
He said Ireland now has a two-tier system for asylum seekers.
“I am not criticizing them for the way they are treating Ukrainians, but I am saying there is an underlying and clear wave of differentiating some refugees from the others,” he said.
Mr Khambule said people from Ukraine are automatically offered rights and services when they arrive in Ireland – while asylum seekers from other countries must wait months for their first hearing.
“I don’t know what is the reason for them to treat people this way,” he said.
“I don’t know what is the reason for the Government to leave a child in an emergency hotel for three months with no school.
“I don’t know the reason for leaving a person in an emergency hotel with no services or medical care; with no justice card – the temporary residence card, which is the card that is necessary for the progress of an asylum seeker.
“People are not given an opportunity to even state their case. Four months later a person has not even stated their case. No interview no nothing.”
It comes amid reports that Cabinet will today be told that up 200,000 people could arrive in Ireland from Ukraine in the coming weeks.
Ministers will be told that hotels, vacant homes, B&Bs, community centres and religious orders will need to open their doors.
Spare rooms are also being sourced in homes around the country to help house people as they arrive here.
You can listen back to Mr Khambule here:
Main image shows a general view of the Mosney Direct Provision centre in County Meath which houses asylum seekers as they await decisions on their refugee status, 19-07-2017. Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire