A new support project to provide specialised assistance for migrant and refugee victims of crime was launched in Limerick city on Wednesday.
The initiative is the first of its kind in Ireland and is in response to the “growing demand” to meet the “complex and increasing needs” of migrant and refugee victims of crime, the advocacy group Doras has said.
John Lannon, chief executive of Doras, said the Department of Justice-supported initiative was “timely and much needed”.
“All victims of crime need support but we see first hand how migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees often need specific and sometimes more specialised support,” Mr Lannon said.
“They may be victims of crimes such as human trafficking, racism, hate crime, gender-based violence, human trafficking, labour market exploitation, or modern slavery.
“Victims may not know where to turn for help and sometimes language, immigration, or cultural barriers are a factor.
“Certain groups are particularly vulnerable and already dealing with a complex range of challenges, including those who have fled their countries due to war or persecution. It can be extremely difficult for people living in direct provision or other challenging circumstances to seek help or know where to turn. That’s why this project is particularly important.”
The Migrant Victim Support Project was developed to address current gaps in service provision for victims of crime who have special protection needs.
The project will work to overcome barriers faced by migrants and refugees with regard to accessing justice and appropriate support services.
Bulelani Mfaco, a founding member of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), said it has had to respond to cases of all forms of violence, including sexual violence involving women and men who have come to Ireland seeking protection.
“Many refugees and migrants do not have the important family support they’d need when they experience violence, they can only rely on under-resourced NGOs,” he said.
“Supporting victims of crime needs to be at the centre of the criminal justice system’s response to crime. This is particularly true for foreign nationals who may have no one else in the state to rely on.”