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'Nearing exhaustion' Nowhere for 10,000 Ukrainian refugees to stay by end of April, Cabinet hears

With 580 Ukrainian refugees arriving every day, officials fear up to 10,000 people will have no accommodation by the end of the month

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A Ukrainian refugee holding a baby after crossing the Ukraine-Poland border earlier this week. Photo: Kacper Pempel / REUTERS

A Ukrainian refugee holding a baby after crossing the Ukraine-Poland border earlier this week. Photo: Kacper Pempel / REUTERS

A Ukrainian refugee holding a baby after crossing the Ukraine-Poland border earlier this week. Photo: Kacper Pempel / REUTERS

The State’s capacity to house Ukrainian refugees is nearing exhaustion with a shortage of beds anticipated by the end of this week and as many as 10,000 people having no accommodation at all by the end of the month, the Cabinet has been secretly warned.

Ministers were told on Tuesday that with 580 refugees arriving per day, around 5,000 additional beds will be needed by Easter to meet demand.

This will be on top of those already identified across hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, State facilities and from people who have pledged vacant homes and rooms.

The Cabinet was told that the capacity for the State to accommodate refugees is now “nearing exhaustion” and that the continuing trajectory of arrivals gives rise to the “high risk of an acute lack of short-term, including emergency, accommodation”.

This includes space being made available in facilities such as Millstreet Arena, in Co Cork, which can accommodate 400 people, and the Defence Forces barracks at Gormanston, Co Meath, where tents are being erected to accommodate 320 people.

Government officials have carried out a modelling exercise on the assumption that 580 refugees will arrive every day – the current seven-day rolling average of arrivals – until the end of June. Based on this, 17,000-19,000 people will be seeking accommodation by Easter weekend.

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A woman holds the flag of Ukraine outside Leinster House, Dublin, as President Zelensky of Ukraine addresses the Oireachtas.

A woman holds the flag of Ukraine outside Leinster House, Dublin, as President Zelensky of Ukraine addresses the Oireachtas.

A woman holds the flag of Ukraine outside Leinster House, Dublin, as President Zelensky of Ukraine addresses the Oireachtas.

Already a shortage of accommodation is anticipated by this weekend, ministers were told privately.

The modelling forecasts that if more than 75pc of those refugees seek accommodation from the State, up to 10,000 would have nowhere to stay by the end of April because all accommodation types would be at maximum capacity.

A Government spokesperson said on Tuesday that the proportion of arrivals seeking accommodation had risen to 81pc compared to 74pc a week earlier. However, details of the stark private briefing given to ministers at Cabinet were not disclosed.

One charity has said that unoccupied holiday homes should be prioritised – ahead of shared homes – for accommodating Ukrainian refugees.

The Irish Refugee Council also said the Government must look at long-term solutions.

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Meanwhile, people who have taken in Ukrainian refugees face soaring household bills and are feeling ignored by the State, the Dáil was told.

Independent Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick said he had been approached by families, some of whom had driven to the airport to offer accommodation, who now felt isolated with no support. They had expected the war to last only a few weeks, he said.

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Irish people who have taken in Ukrainian refugees are feeling ignored by the State, Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick told the Dáil. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Irish people who have taken in Ukrainian refugees are feeling ignored by the State, Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick told the Dáil. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Irish people who have taken in Ukrainian refugees are feeling ignored by the State, Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick told the Dáil. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

The UK government is paying €350 a month to refugee hosts. “We need to support the Irish people who have been good enough to open their homes,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

The householders who took in refugees would not hesitate to do so again, he said. “But they have very little if any contact from the relevant Government departments and no support.”

In reply, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said community response forums were being established, with local authorities co-ordinating local responses to the Ukraine crisis. He made no mention of any payments to host families.

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