Crisis | 

Over 3,000 Ukrainian refugees could have nowhere to live as hotel contracts end

Senior ministers will be told more than 21,000 refugees have been provided with housing to date but there are up 1,000 Ukrainians in emergency accommodation.
Ukrainian refugees wait for transport at the central train station in Warsaw, Poland.

Ukrainian refugees wait for transport at the central train station in Warsaw, Poland.

Refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine cross the border into Poland. Photo: Mark Condren

Refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine cross the border into Poland. Photo: Mark Condren

Philip Ryan

Around 3,400 Ukrainian refugees will have nowhere to live in just over six weeks when Government contracts with hotels come to an end, ministers have been warned.

The true scale of the humanitarian crisis has been laid bare for ministers who were told the State is running out of accommodation for people fleeing war-torn Ukraine.

Details of the warnings come as a Cabinet committee on Ukraine meets today to discuss the worsening housing situation for refugees, which is expected to hit crisis point in the coming months.

Senior ministers will be told more than 21,000 refugees have been provided with housing to date but there are up to 1,000 Ukrainians in emergency accommodation.

Refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine cross the border into Poland. Photo: Mark Condren

Refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine cross the border into Poland. Photo: Mark Condren

The search for housing is set to worsen as the tourism seasons kicks off and students return to the classes later this year.

Modelling carried out for the Government by consultancy firm Ernst & Young suggests approximately 3,400 Ukrainians could be without accommodation by July 28, when contracts with hotels expire. The figures are based on 250 people arriving here from Ukraine each day.

The modelling also suggests that even if 150 people arrive per day, there could be between 5,700 and 6,900 Ukrainians without anywhere to live by the end of August.

The State currently has more than 300 contracts with hotels, B&Bs, religious institutions, educational institutions, arenas, Scout dens, youth hostels and St Vincent de Paul centres to provide accommodation.

There are also concerns that around 4,500 student accommodation beds being used to house refugees will have to be vacated by the middle of August.

Ministers have also been told the Irish Red Cross’s efforts to match refugees with people who offered private accommodation has been “unsatisfactory”. The Department of Children has been forced to intervene to “elicit the limited progress to date”.

The Government is aiming to avail of around 6,000 pledges of private accommodation by the end of the summer, but this will involve the Irish Red Cross, various departments, State agencies and local authorities.

Around 25,000 people pledged either shared or vacant properties when Russia invaded Ukraine. However, 10,000 of these people were either uncontactable or had duplicated pledges, while 5,600 withdrew their offer. There were 2,800 offers of vacant properties and 900 have been inspected.

More than 6,600 offers of shared accommodation were made and 3,000 have been contacted and asked to take part in a vetting process.

However, only one-third of people agreed to go through the process and gardaí have carried out vetting on around 1,000 people,

The Cabinet committee on Ukraine will also be told local authorities are spending too much of their time and resources on the refugee crisis, which means they are prevented from focusing on other issues such as their commitments set out in the Housing for All strategy.

Local authorities have been providing emergency accommodation for refugees over recent months and are aiming to refurbish buildings to provide housing for 3,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of their country.

The Department of Housing is developing a pilot project to provide 500 modular homes which will be used to house refugees.

However, ministers have been warned the project will cost in excess of €100m and there is a need for a long-term strategy for the homes to ensure they can continue to be occupied once the war in Ukraine has ended.

The Office of Public Works is reviewing the best sites for the modular accommodation based on their location to services such as schools, healthcare and public transport.

The Cabinet committee will also discuss how, on average, 100 Ukrainians are moved between various accommodation sites on a daily basis due to the current reliance on short-term housing.

They will be told this has potential impact on efforts to integrate refugees in their communities, especially in terms of finding employment or schools for children.


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