EU state could slash payments to Ukrainians by 80% – minister
Ireland may cut welfare benefits to Ukrainian refugees by more than 80% and introduce limits on their stay in government-provided housing, the social protection minister has told the Dáil, the country's parliament.
The proposed change would be retroactive and would affect Ukrainians currently living in state accommodation, in addition to new arrivals, the Irish Independent newspaper reported on Wednesday.
“We may have to make the decision that anybody in state provided accommodation, regardless of what date they arrived, they will receive a payment of €38.80,” Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys told the Assembly of Ireland.
Currently, Ireland provides tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees state housing and a jobseeker’s allowance of €232 per week, but a devastating housing crisis and riots in the capital over immigration policy, have forced the government to cut state benefits, bringing the country in line with other EU nations.
Last week, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky called on Germany to stop financially supporting refugees in the country, arguing that it would be better to give money to the state budget.
Western cash and military aid infusions for Kiev have slowed in recent months after Ukraine’s counteroffensive last year ended without significant gains and nearly 400,000 Ukrainian casualties, according to Moscow’s estimates. However, Ukraine’s chief of military intelligence, Kirill Budanov, has promised another counteroffensive this spring.
Officials in Kiev plan to mobilize around 500,000 new conscripts to cover the war losses, with lawmakers working on a new mobilization bill that, among other things, would target military-aged men who fled the country.
In order to aid the recruitment drive, Kiev even urged Western states to cut payouts to Ukrainian refugees if they refuse to return home for the draft. One of Zelensky’s senior aides, Mikhail Podoliak, said in December that they should be given the choice to “either to get drafted or… lose certain opportunities granted to people that temporarily left Ukraine.”