Dublin Airport’s reception facility for Ukrainian refugees is to close over the coming days, with all its staff and services to transition to the temporary accommodation centre in Citywest, Co Dublin.
About 90 per cent of the thousands of refugees who have arrived in the State have passed through the facility since the war began in Ukraine. Some 27,500 protection permissions have been issued, with March 18th the busiest day, with 933 people.
The oldest refugee was 95, while the youngest was five weeks old. Hundreds of pets passed through, including dogs, cats and gerbils.
Ukrainians were given a PPS number and assessed for their accommodation needs at the facility. This process will now take place at Citywest conference centre, where 100 temporary beds have been set up, along with a play area for children and a HSE triage desk to assess those with health conditions.
The airport “one-stop-shop” was set up after the Department of Justice began monitoring the number of Ukrainians entering the State in the first week of the war. It noticed the numbers began rapidly increasing from early March, from just 80 per day to hundreds.
"The trend was obvious, we have mass migration from Europe and we are seeing this hit our shores very, very quickly at an exponential level," an official who helped set up and operate the centre told The Irish Times.
Ukrainians were “roaming around Arrivals” unsure of where to go, leading multiple departments to participate in emergency meetings to find a solution.
The old DAA building was offered at no cost and the Departments of Justice, Social Protection and Children set up offices there.
The facility operated for just over 10 weeks and received support from Smyths Toys, Penneys, Aldi and various telecom companies.
Numbers of Ukrainians
The numbers of Ukrainians arriving into the State have now significantly slowed since the peak of more than 4,000 in the fifth week of the war, though numbers are “still very much unprecedented for the State”.
The weekly average over the last month stands at approximately 1,600.
The Government is “not in a scale-down phase” but is “stabilising” its response to the ongoing crisis by relocating its services to Citywest.
On arriving at the airport, refugees will now be guided to a bus to Citywest, where they will have a bed to rest, receive food, and be processed in the morning.
Citywest is also operating a fully digital system whereby passports and other documents will be scanned and stored on computers, rather than in paper form, making the process “much more seamless” than at Dublin Airport.
Department staff have been moved to Citywest, as well as translators and case workers from the International Organisation for Migrants.