Ukrainian refugees: Ireland struggles to find accommodation

Irish government ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the current housing shortage for refugees, days after admitting new arrivals may have to sleep rough.

Earlier this week, the government announced that Dublin’s Citywest Transit Hub, which is used to accommodate refugees, had reached “capacity”.

I’m not temporarily closed to new arrivals on Thursday, external.

Children’s Minister Roderick O’Gorman said he could not rule out the possibility that some refugees were forced to sleep rough.

However, he said families with children and the vulnerable would be given priority for available beds.

The government is working with charities and non-governmental organizations to secure more shelters, but said “access to suitable accommodation is severely limited”.

A small number of Ukrainians visited the Capucin Day Center for Homeless People in Dublin on Saturday morning.

Some of them told Irish broadcaster RTÉ they had spent the night sleeping at Dublin Airport., external

Junior Minister Martin Heydon told RTÉ he understood 33 male Ukrainian refugees could not be accommodated on Friday night and called it “disappointing”.

“It’s about us being honest and direct with people who are currently outside the country, thinking and deciding where to go.

“We cannot guarantee everyone who comes here a bed at this time because of the situation we find ourselves in.”

Later on Saturday, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheal Martin defended the government’s response saying it had been remarkably quick to respond to a wartime situation.

He said the state has responded in an extraordinary way in terms of the numbers it has already taken in.

“We can all estimate the number of arrivals, but that doesn’t mean you can immediately provide accommodation,” he said.

“We will have to move faster to accommodate increasing numbers. There is an escalation in the war and it is taking a very nasty turn and civilians are now a target.”

The Republic of Ireland has been trying to cope with a significant increase in the number of refugees since the start of the war in Ukraine in February.

In total, more than 58,000 refugees are currently hosted by the Directorate for Children, Equality, Handicap, Integration and Youth.

Among them, 42,000 are Ukrainians and the other 16,000 are people of different nationalities seeking international protection.

The department illustrated the recent surge in applications by pointing out that at the same time last year it was hosting a total of 7,250 refugees.

It said it has “under contract to around 25% of the hotel beds in Ireland, as well as hostels, guest houses, pawnbrokers, sports stadiums, scouting facilities, tented accommodation and modular units”.

However, the department warned that the country now faces a projected shortfall of 15,000 beds by December if the number of refugee arrivals remains at “high levels”.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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