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Helen McEntee says almost 13,500 Ukrainian refugees have entered Ireland

93pc of those fleeing Ukraine had entered Ireland through Dublin Airport.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee

Neasa Cumiskey

Almost 13,500 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland, according to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

The minister said that 93pc of those fleeing Ukraine had entered Ireland through Dublin Airport.

Some 3.9 million people have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion began last month.

The EU is giving refugees “temporary protection” status that will allow them to live and work in the EU for a period of time.

Arriving at an emergency meeting in Brussels, Ms Entee said that the EU must protect refugees from potential risks given that 90pc of those fleeing are women and children.

“What's really important… is that we acknowledge the risks with such a mass movement of people. Risks around human trafficking, child exploitation, but also criminality,” she said.

“What we need to make sure is that as people start to disperse further from the initial member states, that we are collectively speaking to each other that we know where people are travelling to, and that obviously we can see where people are seeking that temporary protection mechanism.”

Ms McEntee said it was hard to predict how many refugees would come to Ireland in total.

“We're not going to put a cap on this,” she told RTÉ News.

“But I think the more coordinated we are, the more we will be able to respond effectively, whether it's providing accommodation, whether it's preparing schools for children, whether it's making sure we have access to healthcare for people.”

The Irish Government is sourcing short-term accommodation for people arriving from Ukraine, with many hotels and guest houses offering rooms to incoming refugees.

And the Irish Red Cross have received more than 22,657 pledges from the public to help accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Ireland.

State-owned, religious or private properties may also be deemed suitable as short-term accommodation.

Additionally, the Irish Defence Forces have been constructing a large tent village in Gormanstown Camp in Co. Meath since last week, but it is hoped that this will only be used as a last resort.

A Defence Forces spokesperson said that the tents will only be used if the Government cannot source alternative accommodation for refugees.

“Following a request from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), the Defence Forces commenced the preparation of accommodation in Gormanston Camp for Ukrainians seeking protection in Ireland. The work on this facility commenced on the weekend of 19/20 March 2022,” a statement read.

“The accommodation at Gormanstown is being prepared as a contingency due to the unprecedented nature of the situation.”

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