The Tusla Children and Family Agency provides accommodation for 22 unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in Ireland after fleeing war-torn Ukraine.
Children’s Secretary Roderic O’Gorman said a “small but growing number of unaccompanied minors” are arriving in Ireland as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
His comments come as Tanaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that Ireland could expect about 40,000 Ukrainian refugees by the end of April – equivalent to a population growth of almost 1 percent in just a few weeks.
The Fine Gael leader said this influx of people represents the greatest humanitarian challenge the state has ever faced and will impact all facets of Irish life.
He said the impact would make itself felt in spending on health, welfare and housing – even affecting things like efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Mr Varadkar replied to Róisín Shortall of the Social Democrats, who asked what systems would be put in place to coordinate efforts to accommodate so many people.
“This is the scale of the crisis we have to face and we have to be honest with the people about what we can do,” Mr Varadkar said.
He said the government had to admit that it would not be possible to provide self-catering “accommodation with their own door” to all those seeking refuge here from Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Mr O’Gorman said around 68,000 refugees were expected to arrive in Ireland during the crisis, but this could increase further in the coming weeks.
“In the first four weeks, our response was very focused on first getting shelter for people arriving in the country at short notice,” he said.
“We are now looking at ways we can accommodate large numbers of people in the medium to long term, including working with government agencies, government agencies on housing and which buildings are unused and could be repurposed,” he said. He said this included discussions with religious orders and local authorities.
When asked how many refugees Ireland could take, Mr O’Gorman replied: “I think Ireland will do what Ireland needs to do in terms of total numbers.”
“I think that’s the point of government. That is also the spirit of the Irish people. We have seen that Poland is currently taking in 1.8 million refugees… and they are finding the place as they go,” he added.
He said 2,000 hotel rooms are being used for housing, while local authorities have identified around 500 properties that could be used to house refugees.
He said this will involve repurposing buildings that could become a habit for people from Ukraine.
Social Protection Secretary Heather Humphreys outlined her plans to change legislation to ensure older people who want to house a refugee see no impact on their welfare.
Ms Humphreys said those who offered their homes did i.e. on a voluntary basis and were not looking for any money from the state at that time.
The minister said her department “will not be neglected” when it comes to providing social assistance to refugees from Ukraine.
She said 7,326 people from Ukraine have been given PPS numbers since arriving in Ireland, giving them entitlement to welfare benefits and enabling them to take up employment. She said the majority (88 percent) of PPS figures reported were women and children.
She said welfare would be paid to 5,100 refugees and child support for 1,808 children.
Ms Humphreys said she could not comment on whether refugees staying at Cabinet ministers’ homes would be screened before they were housed.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/tusla-providing-accommodation-for-22-minors-seeking-refuge-after-fleeing-ukraine-41474957.html Tusla provides accommodation for 22 minors seeking refuge after fleeing Ukraine