The number of children living in Direct Provision is “dangerously high”, accounting for more than a quarter of people in the system.
Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte says that figures provided for her show there are 1,674 children living in Direct Provision, up from 1,094 in 2016.
Children make up 27% of the 6,082 people currently in this asylum seeker system which has been the subject of heavy criticism from human rights groups.
“It’s 20 years since the Direct Provision system was introduced as a temporary measure,” Anne Rabbitte said.
“Unfortunately, it’s become the norm and it’s leaving children exposed to some very questionable living conditions. Simply put, direct provision centres are not safe environments for children.”
She described the rapid growth of the number of children in provision centres as extremely worrying, adding that 1,413 of these kids are under 12 years old.
““The centres often have communal bathrooms and children have to share with grown men and women,” The Fianna Fáil TD said.
“The Irish Refugee Council have previously warned that children can be exposed to violent and sexual behaviour, which simply cannot be tolerated.”
“Families are essentially living in limbo, sometimes waiting for years to progress through the asylum process, and with not much to survive on.”
While in Direct Provision adults receive an allowance of €38.80 per week and €29.80 per week for children. Deputy Rabbitte said that these are “minuscule” amounts of money to live on.
All of this is taking place while provision centres are struggling to operate while full beyond their intended capacity she said.