Asylum Seekers’ and Refugees’ Health and Well-Being during the Pandemic in Ireland: The Role of Integration and Ethnic Equality Mainstreaming

Cordula Bieri , School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin

Across the world, the inclusiveness of healthcare systems is put to a test as governments struggle to protect the most vulnerable during the pandemic. In this seminar, I present a case study of Ireland, where asylum seekers and refugees living in reception centers are disproportionately affected by Covid-19, despite the country’s well-established intercultural healthcare policy.

During the last twenty years, an increasing number of European countries, including Ireland, chose to pursue a mainstreaming approach to migrant integration, resulting in a growing body of research attempting to conceptualize what integration mainstreaming entails and how it is implemented. While there is considerable research on healthcare policy, less attention has been paid to its intersection with other policy areas, like housing or social protection.

Informed by documentary analysis, this case study finds that while asylum seekers and refugees have equal access to healthcare services, their exclusion from mainstream housing and social protection supports makes them more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 and hampered the efforts of public healthcare professionals to protect them adequately.

In demonstrating that inclusive healthcare policy can only be effective if embedded into equally inclusive access to social rights, these findings become also relevant for other groups, like the undocumented, Roma, and Travellers, who continue to be excluded from basic social rights.

About the speaker

Cordula Bieri is a Ph.D. researcher working under the supervision of Dr. Paula Mayock at the School of Social Work and Social Policy of Trinity College Dublin and is a recipient of the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the housing experiences of refugees who have recently been granted international protection. Cordula has a MA degree in Sociology from the University of Zurich and has previously worked for Non-profit organizations in Switzerland, where her research and advocacy work had a strong focus on the intersection of poverty, housing, and migration.


Date: 24 February 2021

Time: 15:00 - 16:00  CEST