A number of recent unfortunate events have highlighted the issue of Algerians claiming asylum in Ireland who then appear before the courts involved in violent incidents or tragic deaths. Much of the news reportage appears to be happy to emphasise, or play down, the status of the person or persons involved depending on the circumstances.
Some Algerians are described as “fleeing” their own country for the safety of Ireland, while others simply become an “Algerian national,” even though in the case of Mohamed Akrouf, the person who was arrested for stabbing somebody on Grafton Street in Dublin on Sunday morning, he is a man who had arrived into the state in November to claim international protection. By definition, then, he is an “asylum seeker.”
Another Algerian asylum seeker, Lokman Benharkou, living in accommodation in Dundalk, was charged earlier this month for allegedly carrying out an “extremely violent” attack on two women in the town as well as inflicting very serious injuries on another man who tried to intervene, stomping “on his head a number of times, knocking him unconscious and causing serious facial injuries.”
Benharkou, who came to Ireland claiming asylum 11 months ago, had previously lived for 11 years in the UK.
Like Akrout, he came here from a country where there are no wars or other conflicts, nor other internationally recognised crises that justify large numbers of people claiming asylum.
Some argue that seeking work – or a ‘better life’ – is a justifiable reason for their arrival in Ireland, but as the data below shows, only a tiny number of Algerians – 1% of those arriving in 2023 – actually have work permits issued.
According to international statistics, 9,909 Algerians applied for asylum around the world in 2022. And as the table below shows, the Irish state received more of those applications than any other country on the planet.
This is despite the fact that, other than slave raids such as that on Baltimore in Cork in the 17th century, Ireland has absolutely no notable historical or cultural or even economic links with Algeria, nor is Ireland a geographically obvious nor convenient location for anyone travelling from Algeria.
Not only that, but the Irish state received more applications for asylum than France, which is the former colonial power in Algeria and is therefore home to hundreds of thousands of Algerians and persons of Algerian descent.
At 11.5%, Ireland’s acceptance rate is ahead of most other European states, again including France.
Official statistics, from the International Protection Office here, show that Algerians have now displaced asylum seekers from another safe country, Georgia, at the head of the list of nationalities claiming protection here.
There has been a significant increase of almost 100 to the end of July in the numbers of Algerians who have arrived to claim asylum here, and that has contributed to an increase in the numbers of Algerians who are now accommodated by the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS.)
At the end of the first week in August there were 2,726 Algerians under the care of IPAS, the third highest numbers after people from the similarly safe countries of Georgia and Nigeria.
That has led to an increase in the numbers of Algerians who have been issued with PPS numbers to the end of June this year. So far, 1,152 Algerians have been issued with PPS numbers. That is almost three times the 448 who were issued with PPS numbers in the same period last year, and is obviously going to overtake the 1,488 who were issued with a PPS number for the whole of 2022.
Some defenders of this internationally statistically aberrant level of asylum seeking from Algeria – if challenged regarding the absence of human rights issues justify their arrival – will claim that, well, they are really desperate people who are coming here to work.
JUST 11 WORK PERMITS
In fact, as with other national and ethnic groups that have brought themselves to attention for mostly the wrong reasons, that does not really hold up.
Anyone who wishes to work in Ireland can apply to do so with a whole wide range of employers who are part of the work permits system.
There is nothing to prevent anyone from Algeria doing so and yet, the statistics available so far for 2023 show that just 11 people from Algeria were issued with work permits in Ireland.
This in the same time period, more or less, in which 916 people from Algeria claimed asylum, and in which over 1,100 Algerians were issued with new PPS numbers.
In fact, less than 1% of the PPS numbers given to Algerians for 2023 so far, went to people who got a job here. So, whatever the main motivation for Algerians coming to Ireland, grafting is clearly not among them.
Compare that to Algeria’s neighbour Tunisia which has a very similar history and current political and other environment, and from where a statistically insignificant number of asylum seekers arrive in Ireland. In 2022, there were actually more refugees globally from Tunisia than there were from Algeria. Ireland is not recorded as having received even one such application. There are just 88 Tunisians in IPAS accommodation.
In stark contrast, in 2022, 94 Tunisians were issued with a work permit here, compared to 35 permits issued to Algerians. Tunisians are, therefore in the greater part proven to be legitimate migrants. The same cannot be said regarding most Algerians.
But they are still enabled to remain here in large numbers through an inept migrancy system that encourages such opportunism and, as we discussed yesterday, fails to deal with it even when detected to be criminally motivated.