Disease hits Ireland's homeless asylum-seekers as conditions deteriorate

refugees in tent
refugees in tent Copyright Gregory Bull/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Some of those seeking international protection are camped out in tents across Dublin, as an asylum crisis continues to grip the country.

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Conditions for asylum-seekers sleeping on the streets in Ireland have worsened, amid an outbreak of disease. 

People seeking international protection are camped out in Dublin city centre, with several men suffering from scabies, while others battle respiratory illnesses. 

Social Rights Ireland, a volunteer group helping asylum-seekers, has said it is overwhelmed and urged the government to intervene.

Tents line the sidewalks outside the International Protection Office on Mount Street in the Irish capital, which some observers say highlights the severity of the escalating humanitarian crisis. 

Around the building, about 150 tents provide shelter for some 200 applicants for international protection. 

Social Rights Ireland has aided these asylum-seekers after they found themselves homeless. 

Concerns have since mounted due to the outbreak of illnesses among the men, however.

Behind the International Protection Office, volunteer Róisín McAleer highlighted the accumulation of waste over the past few weeks, as the men have resorted to using the area as a toilet, leading to widespread contamination. 

Lack of proper sanitation has worsened contagious skin conditions, she said. 

Responding to a call for volunteers, Dr Eve Gaughan, a gynaecologist, attended to several men last week, noting significant health challenges. 

Calling the conditions "almost inhumane," Gaughan cited respiratory and skin infections, as well as a lack of basic sanitation.

Mary Batterbury of Social Rights Ireland said the government should act to stop the health crisis. 

She questioned why governmental officials, including Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman and human rights lawyers, had not visited the camp to witness the conditions firsthand.

A spokesperson for Minister O’Gorman said drop-in day services are available to people without accommodation, providing facilities such as hot showers, meals, and laundry services.

His department said it had arrangements with several organisations to provide such services and has implemented a vulnerability triage process to accommodate those in need.

Despite the challenges, the department reaffirmed its commitment to supporting those seeking international protection.

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