"Before the war started in Syria, I had established my life, I had my own house, my own car, my own business, but unfortunately when the war started, I lost all my life."

This is Hussam's story.

Sitting in the garden next to Marino College on North Strand in Dublin, Hassan tells of his life in Syria, his journey to Ireland, and the financial and personal costs he endured to get to this point.

We are not using his surname to protect those he left behind.

"We're afraid from checkpoints more than from bomb itself, because in bomb you will die, but in checkpoint if they catch you for even for any reason, even if you do nothing, you will wish to die," Hussam said.

We chose this garden as it was close to the Irish Refugee Council offices, where Hussam had come for a meeting.

As we talk about the war-torn country he has left behind, we are both struck by the poignancy of our setting.

The mural behind us depicts the burning GPO in 1916. Irish emigration is also represented in the colourful painting. A few feet from where we sit there is a plaque commemorating the bombing of North Strand by German aircraft during World War II.

Before arriving in Ireland, Hussam said he had heard about country's "history with freedom," and he believed that people here would "understand the meaning of war, they would understand the meaning of living in this situation".

He has spent the last six months living in emergency accommodation, in a hotel in an industrial area on the outskirts of Dublin.

Delays in administering his initial application have left him without access to many of the basic supports normally available to asylum seekers, including the weekly payment of €38.80.

He described how there are no parks nearby, and no shops beyond those at nearby petrol stations.

When I asked if he had any money to take the bus, he shook he head and said "no". Transport was arranged for him so he could attend this meeting.

He is full of praise for the "kind staff and management" at the hotel, where he gets three meals a day, but he said: "I didn't come here to sleep and eat."

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To make the most of his days, Hussam has been teaching himself to speak English using "YouTube videos and some online courses".

"I don't want to lose more time, I want to start work, I want to start study, I want to be start being useful to Ireland," he said.

Hussam is one of hundreds of asylum seekers who have experienced delays in registering their application for international protection.

Delays to processing

The delays have centred around applicants attending the International Protection office on Mount Street in Dublin for a preliminary interview, and obtaining a Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC), colloquially known as a blue card, and an IPF1 form, which applicants need to apply for a Personal Public Service (PPS) number.

Without a PPS number, applicants cannot access supports normally available to asylum seekers including the weekly payment, and a medical card.

A PPS number is also required to access the labour market for those in the system for six months or more.

You also need one to access formal education, though anecdotally a workaround appears to have been put in place to facilitate school places for affected primary and secondary school children.

Hussam waited for four months to get his Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC). Two months on, he received his IPF1 form this week.

However, he said he discovered an error in it which needs to be changed before he can use it. As a result, his PPS number remains out of reach.

Irish Refugee Council CEO Nick Henderson told RTÉ News that delays are resulting in "people languishing across Dublin in particular, but also in other cities, not getting access to support when they need them".

"This really is in stark contrast to all the good work that the state has done for Ukranian people, being able to produce PPS numbers at the airport at very short notice," Mr Henderson added.

"It's very concerning that we have these two different types of treatment and if we can do it for one group of people, then we surely must be able to do what is actually quite a basic administrative function for all people who are seeking refuge in Ireland."

The Department of Justice has said that "the number of people claiming international protection has increased significantly with 3,354 applications made to the end of April 2022."

'Things are improving'

It said that this represents a "129% increase on the same period in 2019, the last year in which application numbers were not impacted by Covid-19".

"This has unfortunately impacted the IPO's ability to complete an application and issue TRC cards on the same day to applicants."

However, it said that "practical efficiencies ... to improve the process" have been put in place, and that things were improving.

Mr Henderson said that "or new applicants the process has quickened, adding that "you may get your temporary residence certificate (TRC) issued quite promptly", but that problems remained "for people who have had difficulties over recent months, who are backlogged in the system."

In April, Department of Justice figures showed 1,200 people needed to return to the IPO complete their application.

This week that figure was at 238.

The Department of Justice said that 68 had been scheduled for appointments this week, and appointments would be offered to outstanding applicants "in the following two weeks".

As for those waiting for an IPF1 form, the department has said that "the majority of applicants who did not receive an IPF1 on the day they received their TRC have now had their IPF1 forms posted to them."

"Where the IPO did not have an address for a small number of applicants, approximately 40, the IPF1s were forwarded to the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) for onward transmission to those applicants," it said.

And it advised any applicant awaiting the receipt of an IPF1 to contact the IPO as soon as possible.

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Another asylum seeker, Daniel (not his real name) told RTÉ News that even this was not an easy thing to do.

He said he has been in Ireland since November last year and he says he still has not gotten his IPF1 form.

"I have never gotten that paper since I did my (preliminary) interview, it's been some time now... Even yesterday I was at the IPO trying to do a walk-in, but they turned me away," Daniel said.

Co-founder of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, Lucky Khambule, said he has heard many international protection applicants sharing similar experiences.

"They are told that 'we are busy, there are so many people that are doing the applications', sometimes they are told that the machines are broken, all that is frustrating for people," Mr Khambule said.

"I was in a meeting last night and I just posed one quick question, how many people are here who are waiting for their justice (TRC) cards? How many for PPS (numbers)? And there was a huge number of people - especially for the PPS - waiting for the PPS, so the problem is still there. It needs to be fast tracked more," Mr Khambule said.

Once an IPF1 form is submitted, the provision of PPS numbers falls to the Department of Social Protection.

The department said that the process of issuing PPS numbers to international protection applicants "can take up to three weeks where the application is fully completed, and all required supporting documentation is provided."

RTÉ News understands that earlier this year, a pilot scheme to speed up this process was abandoned.

However, the department said a "pilot programme is currently being developed in conjunction with the International Protection Office, to expedite PPS number applications from international protection applicants."