EU state runs out of space for refugees
Ireland has no more space to host Ukrainian refugees, and those arriving in the coming days face being stranded at Dublin Airport. In a briefing to NGOs on Wednesday, the Department of Children announced that Dublin’s Citywest Hotel – recently repurposed as accommodation for asylum seekers – had reached capacity.
The state has taken in more than 40,000 Ukrainians since February, and until recently the government insisted that restricting the influx was out of the question.
With no other facilities available, new arrivals may be forced to sleep at the airport, NGOs were told. Some 250 people stayed in an old terminal building on Wednesday night, several Irish media outlets reported.
Prime Minister Micheal Martin will meet with ministers on Thursday to discuss the situation, a government spokeswoman told the Irish Times. In a press conference on Thursday morning, Martin revealed that 70% of those in the Citywest facility are not Ukrainian, but asylum seekers from other countries.
As of Monday, 40,678 people have entered Ireland from Ukraine since the start of Russia’s military operation on February 24th, including 1,454 last week. With Ireland’s population standing at just over five million, this influx means that nearly one in 100 people in the country have come from Ukraine in the last four months.
Ireland has been in the throes of a chronic housing and homelessness crisis since austerity was imposed after the economic crash of 2009. President Michael Higgins called Ireland’s lack of housing for its people “our great, great, great failure” in a speech last month.
Despite the housing crunch, the agriculture minister, Charlie McConalogue, insisted in March that the country could take in as many as 200,000 Ukrainian refugees, while the housing minister, Darragh O’Brien, declared last month that the state “will not support” a “cap on immigration and a cap on asylum into this country.”
Martin said on Thursday that a “tented village” will open at an army camp outside Dublin on Monday to house migrants from Ukraine and elsewhere. The government also plans to house up to 2,000 Ukrainians in modular homes from November onwards.