Ukrainian refugees at Dublin Airport being guided to ‘one-stop-shop’

Arrivals are on average processed in three hours after filling out form for PPS number and assessed for accommodation needs

On their arrival at Dublin Airport, often after long and harrowing journeys, Ukrainian people displaced by Russia’s invasion are guided to the Old Central Terminal Building, where a “one-stop-shop” has been set up to process them.

The reception facility is operating from 8am to 3am every day at present, and about 90 per cent of the more than 10,000 refugees who have arrived in the State have passed through.

The entrance is filled with buggies and car seats donated by the public, children are provided with toys on arrival, and adults are given phone SIM cards loaded with credit. There is a large fridge, from which food and drinks are available, next to a queue that grows steadily throughout the day as more flights land from countries bordering Ukraine.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Children have set up offices in the building, which DAA has made available at no cost.

All of those arriving have the right to access work, housing and benefits for one year without having to make an application for international protection due to the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive in the European Union.

The International Organisation for Migration is supporting the facility and has hired translators to assist refugees through the process.

One interpreter, Katerina Baker, who is originally from Ternopil in Ukraine, has lived in Co Meath since 2007 with her daughters and, as of this month, her mother, who has fled the war.

Shelter

Ms Baker said she heard about the job 10 days ago and applied “straight away”.

"I'm very glad to be working here and helping people come in from my country looking for shelter in Ireland, " she said.

“Last week was really busy. I was doing night shifts from 7pm till 3am. We had about 600 people per day...We help them to translate and we help them to fill in their application forms.”

Almost everybody asks Ms Baker if they will be able to work. She said a 21-year-old woman who arrived with “a little cat in a cage” after spending two weeks on the road told her she would “go mental thinking of everything at home in Ukraine” if she had nothing to do.

“It was her second experience of war because she’s originally from Luhansk,” Ms Baker said. “She was 12-years-old when they start bombing there, and they went to Kyiv, but then everything changed again completely.

“Her parents stayed and she came by herself. Before even filling out the application form, she said ‘I’m ready to start work tomorrow’. I told her she needs time to relax.”

Ms Baker added: “They all want to be able to work and to have the ability to leave Ireland as soon as possible. If everything is okay in Ukraine they want to go back because it’s their home.”

Three hours

Refugees are, on average, processed in under three hours after filling out a form to secure a PPS number and assessed for their accommodation needs, officials said. They are then moved by bus to temporary accommodation in Dublin and elsewhere.

While beds has not yet been a “major issue” due to hotel bookings and offers from the public, the Government expects the number of arrivals to reach 20,000 by the end of this month and to double again in April.

Other reception facilities have been set up for those arriving in Cork and Limerick, and more could be set up in the days and weeks ahead as the numbers displaced by the war increase.

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