All those fleeing war and persecution must be treated equally
The Secretariat of Clare PPN has issued the following statement on behalf of our member organisations.
As the people of Ukraine face the horrors of war and displacement, we welcome the fact that Europe and Ireland are offering sanctuary to those fleeing this crisis. There has been an incredible response from communities in Clare and across Ireland to their arrival.
We welcome the Government’s response and we call for the same measures to be extended to all refugees and those seeking asylum. If Ireland can commit to providing social welfare, school places, children’s allowance and more for up to 200,000 people from Ukraine, we can do it for 7,000 people in Direct Provision.
We are concerned at the emergence of a two-tier system for those fleeing war and persecution. Rather than allowing this to happen, the response to this crisis should be an opportunity to improve the situation for all.
The 2020 Programme for Government and a White Paper in 2021 both committed to ending Direct Provision by 2024. The war in Ukraine has resulted in a far greater number of people living in emergency accommodation, but with the added problem that they are being treated in two very different ways. This is of huge concern to people who are stuck in Direct Provision, who had to go to court to fight for access to basic supports that recent arrivals are being granted automatically.
We also welcome the enhancement of the powers of local authorities to purchase houses and to fast-track the availability of vacant social housing, but we recognise that this must be extremely frustrating for those in our communities who have been enduring housing need. We call on the State to work for all those in need with the same concentrated effort.
We are also concerned at the transfer of huge amounts of public money to the owners of hotels and other private buildings. Most of the work so far in welcoming people fleeing the war in Ukraine has been undertaken by volunteers and voluntary organisations. These groups are under-resourced and they have received no extra financial resources to help them in this humanitarian effort, and yet there are huge State resources being used to pay private hotel owners to accommodate refugees.
This replicates the model of our housing system and highlights the urgent need to move to a human rights-based approach that gives everyone equal access and that sees the State taking a long-term view of how it spends public money.
We are certain our communities will continue to respond with empathy and practical support for those displaced by the unjustified invasion of Ukraine and we hope that this situation will help us build better, more cohesive communities, not create division. The Government can play a key role in this.
Human rights are for everyone or they are for no one.