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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# Ukraine
Department officials were hoping for a 'Hail Mary' last year due refugee accommodation issues
In situation reports from last autumn, officials describe desperate efforts to relieve acute ‘immediate pressuresi at the Citywest transit centre in Dublin.

OFFICIALS IN THE Department of Children and Equality were left praying for a “Hail Mary” as they put a call out for additional accommodation for the growing number of refugees arriving in Ireland.

In situation reports from last autumn, officials describe a deepening crisis and desperate efforts to relieve acute “immediate pressures” at the Citywest transit centre in Dublin.

If “nothing was done”, there would be over 1,000 people staying overnight there with a risk of the “potential closing down of the full facility”.

Earlier this week, The Journal reported that just seven sites for modular homes to accommodate families fleeing the war in Ukraine have been found to date.  

In the department’s situation reports, officials were asked to immediately contact all confirmed and potential accommodation providers to “push for earlier commencement dates”.

An action plan said: “This is a bit of a ‘Hail Mary’ in that we are not expecting significant accommodation to materialise over the next couple of days as a result of the action.”

It said they would also have to see if local authorities could urgently make available 1,000 “emergency rest centre beds”.

The action plan said: “The shortfall is so great that we need scale in terms of emergency rest centre locations.”

It said these centres would need to have capacity for at least 75 people each if they were help to relieve the pressures at Citywest.

“This could be a ‘game‐changer’ in term of relieving pressure on CWTH [Citywest] and allowing it re‐open to all new refugee arrivals,” said the plan.

Consideration was also given to whether extra staff could help “push” refugees through the transit centre into more permanent accommodation.

However, they concluded it was unlikely to make “any significant difference” given the sheer numbers still arriving by the day.

Another situation report from October explained how refugees were arriving at the rate of up to 100 per evening at Dublin Airport.

“We are at 990 and expect to receive another 50-100 … in the next hour or so,” said an email. “82 people have arrived in the airport from Warsaw and another 18 from Bratislava and Vienna.”

In an email to the Department of Foreign Affairs, officials said the situation at Citywest was “precarious” and there was “no line of sight to a solution”.

It explained how single males who were not considered vulnerable could no longer be accommodated at the transit centre.

An email said: “Given the lack of accommodation coming online, it is likely that we will have to extend this to other groups such as single women over the next days.”

In response, an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “It is an extremely challenging situation – I don’t envy you your current job.”

The Department of Children and Equality were also briefing the Ukrainian Ambassador on the challenges they were facing.

An email said: “She [the Ambassador] is grateful that we are keeping her informed, but very worried about what will happen to her citizens.

“She says that the recent bombing campaign, and the evacuation of Kherson and the impending winter without electricity or water supplies will lead to more people leaving Ukraine.”

The Department said “intensive efforts” continued to be made on a daily basis and that providing accommodation remained a serious challenge.

A spokesman said: “Since February 2022, Ireland has welcomed over 71,080 people who have fled Ukraine. There’s no expectation that arrivals will abate and the outlook for the availability of suitable accommodation is extremely challenging.

“More than 62,530 Ukrainian people have sought accommodation from the state.  Since January, 2022 over 17,620 International Protection applicants have also sought accommodation from the State.

“Over 20,300 International Protection applicants are currently in IPAS accommodation.”