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Conditions for IPAs in tents in Dublin deteriorating

Conditions for International Protection Applicants (IPAs) who are sleeping in tents in Dublin city centre are deteriorating.

Several of the men there have scabies, while others have respiratory conditions.

A group of volunteers called Social Rights Ireland have said they are now overwhelmed and have called on the Government to step in.

Waste has accumulated in the area over the last three or four weeks

Tents that line the footpath outside the International Protection Office on Mount Street belie the extent of a growing humanitarian problem.

Right around the building and behind it are more tents, about 150 in all, that are sheltering around 200 IPAs.

With no running water or sanitary conditions, the smell of urine is evident.

Social Rights Ireland have been helping the applicants since they found themselves on the streets.

However, there is now concern for the men due to an outbreak of illnesses.

Róisín McAleer, a volunteer for Social Rights Ireland, said the area has been contaminated

Behind the International Protection Office last night, Róisín McAleer, who is one of the volunteers, pointed out waste that has accumulated over the last three or four weeks.

The men have been going to the toilet in the area which has led to “everything been contaminated”.

Ms McAleer said: “It’s an awful pity. Clothes that get left out in the wet or in the snow and get damp, they’re no use and then they’re being dumped.

“I tried to salvage things at the start, but now it’s impossible to salvage soiled things.”

Lack of sanitary amenities has led to contagious skin conditions

Lack of sanitary amenities has led to contagious skin conditions.

Dr Eve Gaughan, who is a gynecologist, saw the call out of volunteers.

A queue formed on Friday night when she came to check on several of the men.

She said: “It’s a long time since I’ve seen a male patient, but on a volunteer basis, I popped down and certainly they’re facing huge issues here.”

Dr Gaughan described the conditions as “almost inhumane”.

“A lot of people unwell with respiratory tract infections, skin infections and just with no sanitation at all”, she said.

“They’re going to be at risk of a lot of gastrointestinal infections and it’s going to be very hard to prevent any spread of infection among the closeness group here”.

Dr Eve Gaughan treated several wound infections and skin infections

Dr Gaughan treated several wound infections and skin infections on Friday.

She said: “I saw a few cases of scabies, which again, you know, in a situation like this with no opportunity for sanitation and availability of washing machine facilities to do hot washes for their bedding and their clothes, it’s going to be very difficult to treat and it’s quite contagious.

“So, with everyone living on top of each other with these poor conditions, that’s going to be very difficult to get on top of.”

One of the IPAs, said conditions that the men have been living have exacerbated illnesses.

They said: “We get very easy sick because of sanitary conditions. It’s almost impossible. For a toilet, you must find somewhere in Dublin city.

“There is no public toilet, no public shower, dealing with such things is very, very difficult.”

Indeed, a laundry service for those occupying tents run by some of the volunteers has been paused because of the contagious nature of scabies and skin infections.

About 150 tents in the area are sheltering around 200 IPAs

Social Rights Ireland’s Mary Batterbury said the group is overwhelmed and pleaded with the Government to step in.

“It’s got to the point where it’s too overwhelming to try and liaise with more than now probably 200 people at this camp, and it’s really devastating,” she said.

Ms Batterbury questioned why governmental bodies, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman and human rights lawyers had not gone to the “camp” to witness conditions for themselves.

She said: “We’re shocked and demanding that something has to be done because as you can see yourself, the conditions, they’re heartbreaking.

“There are almost no words to really describe what’s going on”.

Social Rights Ireland’s Mary Batterbury said the group is now overwhelmed

A spokesperson for Mr O’Gorman pointed out that drop-in day services are provided to all non-accommodated persons who wish to avail of them.

“In such centres, International Protection (IP) applicants can access facilities including hot showers, meals and laundry services seven days a week,” the spokesperson said.

The department said it had arrangements in place for the provision of these services with Mendicity, Crosscare, Capuchin Day Centre and Tiglin at the Lighthouse.

“The department is in also in regular contact with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, the Dublin Simon Community, Streetlink Homeless Support Outreach service and others, particularly with regard identification of particularly vulnerable individuals.”

The statement also said that the department has a vulnerability triage process in place for those who are rough sleeping, and in recent days has accelerated this to provide accommodation where required, as it becomes available.

“The department will continue to make every effort in very challenging circumstances to support those seeking International Protection”, it added.

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