Bugs, overcrowding and nowhere to wash: trouble as Ukrainian refugees are housed in cramped and inadequate housing
After the government advised some refugees intending to come to Ireland not to travel, the Sunday Independent is able to reveal the uninhabitable conditions in which Ukrainians are living here.
Last week some newly arrived asylum seekers prepared to sleep on the streets after the Government decided to stop providing shelter to those seeking protection in Ireland.
According to the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, a “pause” was taken in the organization of emergency accommodation due to “not enough available accommodation nationwide”.
Single adults arriving at the Transit Hub in Citywest, Co. Dublin without children would now have to find their own accommodation – although support will continue to be provided to Ukrainian refugees and families with children.
Last Tuesday, the Department asked “those who are considering taking refuge in Ireland and who are in safe places” to postpone their travel plans.
In the shadow of this, the housing crisis and record numbers of homeless people, some of those who fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine are forced to live here in cramped squalor.
Photos provided to this newspaper show overcrowded bunk beds crammed into small spaces, an emergency exit for hanging clothes, and groceries strewn across the floor.
In Co Carlow, a former sidewalk cafe has been converted into a refugee camp, where each ‘bedroom’ is demarcated with wood and dark curtains. Our photos show what appears to be an old function room and several booths that have been divided into different areas.
There are no shower facilities inside. Instead, refugees must use facilities in mobile buildings outside.
A source familiar with the shelter said Ukrainians “have to go outside, sometimes in freezing temperatures, to get washed.”
“There are some families who haven’t washed their children in over a week. I know people who had to go out to wash in -7C and when they got in the shower it was frozen so they couldn’t use it,” he said.
Inside, a number of women and children sleep in tiny makeshift rooms
“Imagine the fitting room in Dunnes Stores. It’s like a bigger version of that. There are three partitions with a curtain across the front and a single bed. There is no privacy,” the source said.
“You walk in and have 1 foot next to your bed. When you open your curtain, which is 1ft off the floor, you’re looking directly across at a unit that’s facing you, and it’s open at the top – like a toilet stall.”
There have been reports of rats and mice being sighted in food areas because doors were left open. Children must play in a parking lot as they are “nowhere near other facilities”. “I’ve seen people leave here and they were in tears,” the source said.
Photos from Co Limerick show small cramped rooms with bunk beds and windows that don’t close. In one picture, leaves appear to be growing in an open window. There are more bunk beds in another part of the building.
“This is the image in many shelters across the country,” the source said.
“Where do you start? There are crowded back hallways full of bunk beds, women and children have to sleep in rooms across from men. I even heard that in some buildings the heating is turned off at night. They are assholes and it is wrong.”
TD Paul Murphy, who has criticized the government’s response, said the treatment of people fleeing the war was “scandalous”.
After seeing our photos, Mr. Murphy said the conditions at some accommodation centers and direct care centers were “inhumane.”
“It is totally unacceptable that anyone – Irish, Ukrainian or Syrian – should be treated like this. We have 50,000 homes in this country that have been vacant for six years or more. We must provide everyone with protection and the basics of decent housing,” he said
The Irish Refugee Council said it was “concerned about deteriorating standards and conditions in direct care and temporary accommodation”.
“The situation has worsened since Wednesday when the Irish government stopped providing accommodation to adult protection applicants,” a spokesman said. “We recognize the tremendous amount of work being done by officials. However, this situation is unacceptable.”
In response, the ministry said it was providing shelter to more than 75,650 people, including at least 55,650 displaced Ukrainians.
More than 2,200 people had descended on Ireland for shelter and safety in the first 22 days of the year.
The ministry confirmed that there was no pre-inspection procedure for shelters.
But it does commission property inspections “when it has concerns about specific properties.”
“These inspections focus primarily on the safety of residents, including food, fire safety and housing suitability,” it said.
To date, more than 70 inspections have been completed and follow-up visits conducted, it said. “We will continue to work to ensure that inspections are completed to address any concerns that may arise.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/vermin-overcrowding-and-nowhere-to-wash-anger-as-ukrainian-refugees-put-in-cramped-and-unsuitable-accommodation-42317684.html Bugs, overcrowding and nowhere to wash: trouble as Ukrainian refugees are housed in cramped and inadequate housing