‘I really want to make Ireland my home.’

On World Refugee Day 2022, Abdella (28) is one of more than 100 million people around the world who have had to flee their homes as a result of persecution and conflict, the highest number yet.

Abdella’s alarm goes off every day at 4am and his day begins. His first shift as a cleaner starts shortly after and he quietly gets up, careful not to wake the four other men he shares a room with. His cleaning jobs continue through to the evening time and his downtime in between is spent searching for a place to live.

The Libyan man has been living in shared accommodation in a direct provision centre in Co. Sligo since 2018, sharing everything from a bedroom to a kitchen. He is keen to ‘put down roots in the community’ but despite being granted refugee status almost two years ago, he can’t find an alternative place to live.

There is huge demand for private rental properties in Ireland and less available than previous years. Abdella is one of 2,700 other refugees who have been granted status but have nowhere to go and says his life is on hold until he can leave the direct provision centre:

“I really want to become part of the community and make Ireland my home but I need to find somewhere to live first. Every single day I am looking but nothing. I’m so grateful for what I have but living in shared accommodation for a long time has its challenges. I miss my family but people in Ireland have been very welcoming. What I find in Ireland is that it’s the same mentality as my home country. People are friendly and gentle.”

He continues to work hard to fulfil his dreams and hopes to study for a degree once he settles down. He is focused on building a better life for himself.

“I work really long hours and want to go to college to study for a degree once I have some free time – I’m really focused on building a strong future and hope it will fall in to place soon, I really want to make Ireland home.”

The number of refugees in this situation has increased over the last number of years.

Today is World Refugee Day and provides an opportunity to reflect on the refugee crisis and shine a light on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees, helping to mobilise political will and resources so refugees can not only survive but also thrive.

Depaul’s Cosán Nua or ‘New Path’ service has been working with people like Abdella living in Direct Provision since March 2019, supporting refugees who have received their status, have the right to remain in the country and are ready to move on from Direct Provision.

When people are referred to Depaul they have very few possessions, no money and no recourse to funds initially. On receiving their status the next challenge is finding a home. Already this year, there has been an 81% decrease in properties available in Dublin and a 66% drop in availability regionally, making it  even more difficult for refugees in Ireland. Ongoing conflict and violence in Libya means it’s too dangerous for Abdella to return home.

Today, we recognise the resilience of the millions of displaced people around the world as they strive to rebuild their lives.