‘Simply astonishing’: Almost 12,000 accommodation offers for Ukraine refugees

Up to six million people seeking to escape war could arrive into EU, Coveney tells Dáil

Almost 12,000 offers of accommodation for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion have been logged with the Irish Red Cross.

The number has spiked sharply since last week against continued news of military strikes on the country, with the total rising rising from 180 last Friday to 11,902 on Thursday.

The Irish Red Cross also said the amount of money donated to its Ukraine appeal had reached an "unbelievable" €14 million.

A spokesman said it took a number of months to reach 1,000 offers of emergency accommodation for those fleeing the civil war in Syria.

“The Irish Red Cross have been blown away by the generosity of the Irish people both from an accommodation pledge point of view and for donating money, they have been simply astonishing,” he said.

Those who have registered will hear from contact teams over the coming weeks. Some 75 per cent of the offers received were to provide a room in a house for refugees in need of accommodation.

Offers of help have also been received from 125 companies and a large number of community groups are also seeking to support the drive.

“We are just so grateful to such a wonderful reaction from the Irish people so far,” the spokesman said.

Displaced

Earlier, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said between four and six million refugees could be displaced from Ukraine into the European Union if the war continues.

This, he added, could potentially mean "tens of thousands of people" coming to Ireland "at a time when we have lots of pressures of our own" in terms of housing and other issues.

Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Mr Coveney said he believed Ireland was “up for that and we’re already putting in place solutions that can ensure people are safe and welcome”.

The Minister said there was now “a wartime situation” and “we need to get into that mindset here to make the kind of contribution Ireland wants to make”.

"So far, considerably more than two million people have come across the borders from Ukraine, into the EU, primarily into Poland but also Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, all bordering Ukraine, and of course Moldova, who are under huge pressure as well," he said.

“But those numbers are likely to continue to increase, if this war continues we could see somewhere between four and six million refugees coming out of Ukraine into the European Union.

“Ireland wants to and will ensure that we are part of those efforts in terms of accommodating Europeans who are fleeing war.”

Mr Coveney also reiterated that Ireland was not neutral on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

‘Taking sides’

“We have made it very clear that we’re taking sides, both from a humanitarian point of view and also from a military support point of view to allow Ukrainians to defend themselves as best we can,” he said.

He said that what neutrality and military non-alignment meant to him was that the Government decides “when and where Ireland intervenes, who we partner with, what side we take on debates, in conflicts and so on”.

“We decide and we’re not tied into those positions by alliances that we’ve signed up to. That’s what non-alignment and neutrality is for me.”

Mr Coveney added that Ukraine was being “torn apart by brutality and an illegal war which is undoubtedly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in my view”.