Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Nasc CEO Fiona Finn is calling for vulnerable and at-risk asylum seekers to be removed from Direct Provision centres as a matter of urgency. 

Ms Finn said her organisation, which works with refugees and migrants, has been hearing from asylum seekers who are feeling afraid and alone as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 

There are hundreds living in direct provision centres in Cork city and county, including the facility on the Kinsale Road. 

“They're hearing the recommendations to social distance, or to avoid social gatherings of more than four people but it's simply not possible for most people in direct provision centres," she said. 

“They're hearing the medical experts say that direct provision centres are a "powder keg" for COVID19… Listen to the experts and move people who are particularly at risk out of the direct provision centres.“ 

 Nasc is part of a larger initiative calling for action in relation to Direct Provision centres nationwide.

The Move the Vulnerable out campaign is being run by Nasc, Irish Refugee Council, MASI, Sanctuary Runners, Immigrant Council of Ireland and Doras.

"In a joint statement, the bodies said: “As a group of organisations we believe urgency and action are paramount.

“We are gravely concerned about the situation of people in Direct Provision in this crisis. We call on the Government to move people within the HSE risk categories, those who are working in healthcare or any industry that puts them at increased risk of exposure - and therefore fellow residents within centres - and also those that are in overcrowded accommodation.

“Hotels or student accommodation could be used. We urge immediate action. Yesterday, Dr Eamonn Faller, an infectious disease specialist registrar at Cork University Hospital, described direct provision centres as 'powder kegs for Covid-19'. It cannot be clearer.” 

UCC lecturer and one of the Directors of Nasc Amanullah De Sondy said: “Many of our refugees come from horrific, extraordinary situations and here we are in the most extraordinary situations too.

“Everyone’s life has turned upside down. Social distancing is a privilege for those of us in comfy homes.

“The provision centres are inadequate and surely what we wish for ourselves is what we wish for the other.

“Sadly a crisis like this that sees no border, race or religion demands that we raise the bar in caring for the vulnerable.”

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