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Housing crisis creating bottleneck for asylum seekers trying to leave Direct Provision

The housing crisis is contributing to bottlenecks in the application process for asylum seekers.

According to research by the ESRI think tank, people seeking asylum here are now waiting an average of 18 to 20 months to complete the first stage of the process.

That is up from a waiting time of around 11 weeks in 2015.

The research points to a lack of options in the housing market as a reason why asylum seekers struggle to leave Direct Provision centres.

Emma Quinn from the ESRI says the system is under strain.

Ms Quinn said: "We found that there was a range of positive measures introduced in Ireland that responded to the humanitarian situation during that period.

"But we also found that the system for processing asylum applications is showing strain and that the system for providing accommodation for asylum applicants is also nearing capacity."

Ireland received an increased number of applications for asylum seekers recent years.

[quote]In 2014 there were 1,448 applications, but this more than doubled to 3,276 in 2015. In 2016, there were 2,244 applications and in 2017, there were 2,926 applications. [/quote]

The majority of applicants in 2017 were from Syria, followed by Georgia, Albania, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

Ms Quinn said: “In many respects the Irish response to the 2015/2016 EU migrant and refugee ‘crisis’ was encouraging, in particular the establishment of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and increased engagement by government ministers in the issue.

"However, our report finds significant underlying bottlenecks, which mean that the system currently faces challenges in processing protection applications in a timely manner.

“The report highlights that preparing for future arrivals requires sustained planning and infrastructure.”

- Digital Desk