Letter from Direct Provision Resident – MOVE THE VULNERABLE OUT

Dear Sir/Madam,

“The routine is the same every morning. I wake up, grab my phone and text the lady a few rooms up the corridor to check that she’s okay. On Tuesday, last week, she started to display flu-like symptoms. Her GP referred her for a Covid-19 test, which she still hasn’t had, and she was told to self-isolate.

There are 234 people living in our Direct Provision centre, there is no space for more self-isolation rooms. We are scared, we are anxious – what happens when more start to get sick? Where are we supposed to go?

My main concern is for the older and more vulnerable people. There are five individuals aged 60, or over, in our centre but many more with underlying health issues. One woman in her sixties had cancer treatment recently. Another has a rare genetic condition which means her immunity is compromised. Another younger woman had a stroke not so long ago.

These people need to be moved out of Direct Provision and Emergency Accommodation centres now before it’s too late. What exactly are we waiting for?
We don’t understand how people at risk on the outside are being asked to cocoon and keep social distance but we’re being kept together – and many are still going out to work every day in vital front line services – They, and we, need to be protected.

The woman who is in self-isolation shared her room with two other women. They haven’t been tested but their GP does not think they have the virus. In other centres we know there are many more people to one room.

The HSE posters about the importance of hand washing are up in the centre and there is an attempt to promote social distancing but it’s just impossible – there are 81 children in our centre.

Over the last two weeks we’ve been asking what the plan is for when people start falling ill in greater numbers – no one can tell us.
Please start moving people now. There is no time to wait. We cannot look back in a few months and say ‘if only’. We need action today. Taoiseach, Minister Flanagan, anybody – help us.”

Naima, Direct Provision Resident

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