Accommodating Ukrainian refugees: how does Ireland compare?

Is Ireland the only EU country not changing how it houses Ukrainians arriving here?

A row over the State’s refugee accommodation crisis on Tuesday heard that Ireland is the only country in Europe not to have changed its accommodation offering to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

It came after a presentation from the Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman proposed restricting accommodation for Ukrainians to only 90 days, before being sent to the private sector.

How does the State’s approach differ from other EU states and what are the State’s obligations?

Under the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive, invoked by the EU for the first time since it was created in 2001, EU countries must ensure “suitable accommodation or, if necessary, receive the means to obtain housing” for beneficiaries of the directive.

But the approach to that responsibility varies greatly from country to country.


Many EU member states use hotel accommodation, with Ireland, Bulgaria and Cyprus most dependent on hotels. Ireland has one of the highest percentages of Ukrainians in State accommodation, at about 77 per cent, followed by the Netherlands at 71.7 per cent and Norway at 53 per cent.

Most other EU countries have relied, at least initially, upon the willingness of private citizens to host Ukrainians in their homes. Private hosting arrangements account for 80-90 per cent of accommodation provided in countries such as Croatia, Cyprus and Latvia, and in some parts of Belgium, Italy and Germany.

A number of countries offer financial support for private households hosting Ukrainians. In Ireland and in the main EU states hosting Ukrainians – Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic – the approach varies.


Ireland provided 37,535 beds in hotels and hostels for Ukrainians in the first year of the war in Ukraine. Rooms for Ukrainians were fully funded by the State, at a cost of €385 million in 2022. Another 5,700 Ukrainians were in homes offered by the public, while the rest were renting their own housing or living with family and friends.

Most contributions to private households from EU member states are based on the number of people hosted or are subject to a cap, with the exception of Ireland, which provides a tax-free recognition payment of €800 per month, as a flat rate payment. Ireland’s offering is generous compared with other EU countries, and is per property, not per person.


The vast majority of Ukrainians in Poland are in private accommodation, through sponsors or the private rental market. Just 5 per cent are accommodated in state housing (in state-owned buildings such as expo centres, offices or theatres used as accommodation centres).

In the early months of 2022, those hosting Ukrainians in Poland were offered a payment of €9 per person, per day, for up to 120 days. However, this payment was withdrawn in July 2022.

Another significant change made by Poland since the early days of the war in Ukraine is that state accommodation was initially fully funded, but this has stopped since March 2023.

Since then, Ukrainians staying in state-funded accommodation for longer than 120 days have to pay 50 per cent of their housing and food costs. After six months, that goes up to 75 per cent. Elderly, pregnant and disabled people are excluded from this requirement.


Some 74 per cent of Ukrainians are in private accommodation in Germany, of which 25 per cent live with friends and family. A further 17 per cent are in hotels or guesthouses, and 9 per cent are in shared accommodation.

Rates of contribution to private households accommodating Ukrainians in Germany are decided by the local governments. The local rent index is one of the metrics used to determine the exact allowance in each individual case, and varies substantially between the municipalities. The person’s individual financial situation is also taken into account.

A significant development in Germany since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that several federal states have announced that they can no longer take in beneficiaries of temporary protection. Various counties and municipalities have reported that they are also at capacity.

Czech Republic

About a fifth of refugees from Ukraine live in commercial or municipal rentals in the Czech Republic, almost 30 per cent in non-residential types of housing (hostels, hotels and other types of housing), and the remainder in apartments provided by or shared with Czech or Ukrainian households.

The Czech Republic provides an allowance of about €125 per person per month for a maximum of four hosted people to private households offering accommodation to Ukrainians.

Since July, housing in state accommodation for Ukrainians in the Czech Republic has been free of charge only for a maximum of 150 days after arrival. After that, Ukrainians are required to find new accommodation, with the exception of vulnerable groups including minors, pregnant women, elderly people over 65 and disabled people.

What about the future of the temporary protection directive for Ukrainians?

The directive can only be extended for up to three years, with the final year for extension being 2025. After that, EU countries will have to figure out how to manage the situation if the war in Ukraine continues.

A presentation to the Cabinet committee on Ukraine earlier this month, seen by The Irish Times, said Ireland’s pipeline of suitable accommodation becoming available in future was “narrowing significantly”.

Potential accommodation coming on stream through refurbishment, rapid and modular builds were “not at a scale to meet demand” and were “ultimately limited in terms of overall scale of challenge”.

Any new approach would need to meet our commitments under the directive, the presentation said, and could include a “shift from open-ended State-supported accommodation to a time-bound provision”.

The State’s provision of accommodation should “more closely align” with the approach in other EU member states, it said, with a “clear transition and communication plan for those already here” required.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times