Five Ukrainian soldiers with ‘significant trauma-related injuries’ airlifted to Dublin

Soldiers are patients on EU’s military medevac list, and were flown into Dublin from Poland on Friday and Sunday

A total of 13 Ukrainians have been medically evacuated to Ireland since the war began in late February, including five Ukrainian soldiers who were airlifted into Ireland over the weekend for treatment.

Five “war-wounded” Ukrainians soldiers, who were patients from the EU’s military medevac list, were flown into Dublin from Rzeszow airport in Poland on Friday June 10th and Sunday June 12th, according to the Department of Health. Two patients arrived on Friday with another three following on Sunday. They are understood to be in a stable condition but with “significant trauma-related injuries”, said the department.

The HSE requested that the patients’ dignity and privacy be respected at this time and is working with agencies and departments to co-ordinate healthcare, interpretation and accommodation supports, along with a living plan for once the patients are discharged from hospital, said a departmental spokeswoman.

Ukrainians fleeing the conflict are currently eligible for temporary protection status in Ireland, which means they have the same access to healthcare benefits as Irish citizens.

European states have been carrying out medical evacuations of Ukrainian military patients for weeks. However, this weekend was the first time patients from the EU’s military medevac list were transferred to Ireland.

The eight other Ukrainian patients transferred to Ireland before this weekend were civilians undergoing care such as cancer treatment when the war broke out.

“Ireland’s overall medevac capacity is limited; however, providing this assistance is an expression of solidarity with Ukraine and neighbouring countries and this contribution is recognised by these countries and at EU level,” said the spokeswoman.

Ireland’s position is that patients on the military medevac lists circulated by the EU, including war-wounded soldiers and civilians, can be “reviewed and supports offered where capacity allows — in the same way as other medical evacuation cases”, she said.

The weekend evacuations were carried out as part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism which aims to “strengthen co-operation between EU countries on civil protection to improve prevention, preparedness, and response to crises,” said the spokeswoman.

Asked whether the decision to accept injured Ukrainian soldiers from Poland for treatment in Ireland could compromise the State’s position of neutrality, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Ireland was “not politically or morally neutral in the face of Russia’s appalling attack against Ukraine”.

“Ireland has a long-standing policy of military neutrality, meaning that we do not participate in military alliances or mutual defence arrangements,” he told The Irish Times. However, the treatment of injured Ukrainian combatants in Ireland reflects the State’s “continuing commitment to work closely with our EU partners to provide humanitarian and other assistance to the people of Ukraine”.

“Ukraine is the victim of an act of armed aggression and any assistance that Ireland provides is therefore to be considered in this light.”

A total of 35,076 Ukrainians had arrived in Ireland seeking refuge by Thursday June 9th, about a third of whom are aged under 18. The number of refugees arriving from Ukraine peaked in late March and early April when 4,249 people arrived in Ireland during one week. This had dropped to 1,553 new arrivals during the first week of June.

Of the children who have arrived since March, 4,766 have been enrolled in Irish primary schools and 2,031 in Irish secondary schools.

The Government does not collect data on the number of Ukrainians who came here seeking protection but have since returned to Ukraine.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast