Over 1,200 Ukrainian refugees set to exit student quarters ‘by mid-September’

Department of Integration also signals that thousands due to be moved before end of this month

More than 1,200 Ukrainian refugees will have to leave student accommodation by the middle of September, on top of thousands who will be moved before the end of this month.

It emerged over the weekend that 3,028 Ukrainians will have to leave to make room for returning students by the end of August. But the Department of Integration said on Monday that another 1,250 are scheduled to leave by mid-September.

While the number of pledged accommodations becoming available has risen significantly in recent weeks, raising the prospect of hundreds more Ukrainians being accommodated in privately owned properties, the State’s response remains under extreme pressure.

The Millstreet Green Glens arena in Cork, which was brought on stream during the spring to house people temporarily before beds in hotels could be found, is nearly constantly at capacity, it is understood — some 319 people were there on Monday, and its capacity is 320.

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On Sunday night there were 710 people in Citywest, the main reception facility, which the Department of Integration said “remains under significant pressure” due to the continuing accommodation shortage. “We are working to move people to more suitable accommodation as soon as such accommodation becomes available,” a spokeswoman said.

Gormanstown Army Camp is being used for only part of the week — from Tuesday to Friday — with 60 people bussed in at a time, due to “operational constraints”. The department said that while it was not in a position to comment on specific locations or accommodation under consideration, “work is continuing across Government to secure additional capacity”.

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There are more than 5,700 beds contracted in student accommodation, some of which are provided by third-level institutions and some by private providers of student accommodation. The department said it is “a matter for individual accommodation providers whether or not they contract with the department for provision of services and for the duration of any such contracts”.

“The department has agreed exit dates to ensure student accommodation is available in advance of the new academic year. The department continues to work with accommodation providers to secure additional capacity,” the spokeswoman said.

Visa-free travel for refugees

As of the end of last week, 43,970 people had arrived in the State. Last week, The Irish Times reported that some Ukrainian refugees were being housed in a nursing home. In July, the Government ran out of State accommodation for those seeking refuge from the conflict, meaning people had to sleep on the floor of the old terminal building at Dublin Airport.

Following this — and against the backdrop of increased numbers of people seeking international protection from places other than Ukraine — the Government tightened up visa-free travel for refugees resident in certain other countries which were signatories along with the Republic to a treaty permitting it. Ukrainians were not affected.

A call has also been put out for sporting organisations to provide accommodation in stadiums and other facilities. About 100 Ukrainian refugees were temporarily sleeping in the Aviva Stadium earlier this summer, and talks are ongoing about opening a facility similar to Citywest on the Sport Ireland campus at Abbotstown in Dublin.

It is understood there is no meeting of the Government’s Cabinet sub-committee scheduled for this week on responding to the Ukraine crisis.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times