Accommodation pledges for Ukrainian refugees exceed 1,500

Irish Red Cross gets €9m-plus in 10 days from Irish donors to aid those fleeing war

More than 1,500 pledges of accommodation for Ukrainian refugees were registered by the Irish Red Cross between Friday and Sunday.

The Irish public has made over 1,500 offers of spare rooms or vacant properties following the Irish Red Cross appeal on March 4th for accommodation for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

The rapid public response contrasts sharply with the 1,000 accommodation pledges made to Syrian refugees in 2018 which took “months to come in”, according to a Red Cross spokesman.

Up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees are expected to arrive in Ireland in the coming days and weeks, with the State expected to host about 2 per cent of refugees forced to leave their home country.


‘We’re astonished’

Irish Red Cross secretary general Liam O’Dwyer said the charity was “astonished” by the response and representatives would contact all those who had made pledges over the coming fortnight to discuss details. Volunteers from the Web Summit and Three mobile will join Red Cross staff in contacting all those who have pledged accommodation as quickly as possible, he said.

Asked to comment on the contrast between offers for Ukrainians and offers a few years ago for Syrians, Mr O’Dwyer said the Irish public had still been “hugely generous” to Syrian refugees. “I think with this situation it does feel closer to home for people. We’re astonished ourselves – we only started this campaign on Friday.”

The charity will meet the Irish Refugee Protection Programme on Monday to discuss how best to link Ukrainian refugees with those offering accommodation and will also liaise with other charities such as the Irish Refugee Council to ensure a co-ordinated response, he said.

Russian ambassador

More than €9 million has also been donated to the Irish branch of the charity since February 25th to support its international operations in Ukraine and on the Polish and Hungarian borders, said Mr O'Dwyer.

Meanwhile, the Government has reiterated it does not plan to expel the Russian ambassador or close the Russian embassy following repeated calls that Yury Filatov leave Ireland. Speaking in an interview with the state-owned Russia 24 television station, Mr Filatov said the Irish public was hostile to "Russia and everything Russian".

“There is value in keeping diplomatic channels open with Russia, not least to protect our interests and our citizens,” said a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson. “Like all of the other responses we have deployed, we are co-ordinating closely with EU partners to ensure decisions have a meaningful impact.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

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