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Tents on Mount Street in Dublin Leah Farrell/

Ireland may 'fall short' on human rights obligations over lack of accommodation for refugees

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the Government was “working tirelessly” to resolve the situation.

THE COUNCIL OF Europe Commission on Human Rights has criticised the Government for failing to provide adequate accommodation to all asylum seekers entering the country.

In a letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, Commissioner Dunja Mijatović said that Ireland could “fall short” of the minimum standards within the European Convention of Human Rights.

In particular, the Commissioner was critical of the decision to only offer emergency accommodation to international protection applicants with children was concerning.

“While I am aware that this decision was taken in exceptional circumstances and with the intention of offering shelter to all applicants as soon as it became available, the exposure of often traumatised and vulnerable individuals to cold, rain, hunger, and distress has serious consequences for their human rights, notably the right to health,” Mijatović said.

“It may very well also fall short of the minimum standards under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

As of 23 May, there are 199 International Protection applicants who have not been offered accommodation and are currently homeless.

Mijatović also flagged concerns around “reported differences in treatment” of people seeking International Protection and the treatment of Ukrainian refugees.

“I am concerned about the reported differences in treatment afforded to people fleeing the war in Ukraine and those fleeing war and atrocities elsewhere, even where the latter are provided with accommodation.

“While I welcome the fact that Ukrainian beneficiaries of temporary protection are usually moved into more permanent and independent types of accommodation after a few days, I understand that international protection applicants with children tend to be housed in inadequate and overcrowded transit conditions for extended periods of time.”

In a response letter dated 25 May, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that Ireland had faced “difficulties” in accommodating the high number of both Ukrainian refugees and International Protection applicants.

“Due to the sheer scale of the numbers arriving, in the midst of a pre-existing housing shortage in Ireland, there have been particular difficulties in sourcing sufficient amounts of accommodation to meet the increased demand,” Varadkar said.

He admitted that the “current situation falls short of what is required” and that the Government was “working tirelessly” to solve the issue.

Earlier this week, Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman said that the Government was examining proposals to house refugees on barges or moored ships, known as ‘floatels’.

He had previously ruled out using a luxury cruise liner to house Ukrainian refugees over concerns that it would take up too much space at Dublin Port.

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