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It is estimated that over one million people have fled Ukraine since war broke out. AP Photo

Government to use emergency planning powers to provide for people fleeing Ukraine

it is estimated that 600 Ukrainians arrived into Ireland in the past week.

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT will use emergency planning powers to provide accommodation for people fleeing Ukraine, according to junior minister Damien English. 

An estimated 600 people have arrived into Ireland from the war torn country in the past week, with Ireland currently expected to provide for 20,000 refugees as Russia’s invasion continues.

While hundreds of people have pledged to take in refugees, the longer term response from Ireland will see the use of emergency planning powers and the use of vacant properties and hotels. 

English told RTÉ Radio One’s Saturday with Katie Hannon that the Government is at the “early stages” of the measures, adding they will be needed as the crisis unfolds. 

“We will looking at vacant properties, we’ll be looking at hotels and other forms accommodation, temporary accommodation, and more structured accommodation,” he said.

“We will be able to use emergency powers if need be under planning laws and supports coming through Europe as well to respond to this.”

English said similar powers have been used before for providing accommodation for homeless people and said it was important that Ireland is ready to take in refugees. 

The response will become “more coordinated” with “percentages allocated to every country” in Europe, English added.  

“I think it’s right that Europe has opened its doors,” he said. “Anybody I speak to from around the country would say this is an important response first of all, building on the sanctions, building on the support.

“So this is the next move. That will make it easy for people in Ukraine to come and live here and work here temporarily.”

Speaking on the same programme, Nick Henderson,  CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said there is no capacity in the Direct Provision system for asylum seekers but said it was “really positive” to see the Government’s stance on accommodation for Ukrainian people. 

“It’s imperative that we all try to identify a different additional sources of accommodation in various ways.

“But the critical issue will be – and it was really positive to see the government saying this very explicitly this week – that  a Ukrainian who arrives who needs accommodation, will get that accommodation at the airport.”

He said two-thirds of the queries received by the council has been people stating they need accommodation for a number of weeks at least. 

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