Number of homeless foreign nationals repatriated doubled last year

The number of destitute European nationals flown home from Ireland under an EU scheme increased by 52% last year.

The figure is included in the new annual report by the Reception and Integration Agency which oversees the asylum seeker Direct Provision system. RIA also has a role in assisting with the voluntary repatriation of destitute citizens of the 13 states which have joined the EU since 2004.

Figures show that while 213 people availed of the scheme in 2012, last year the number rose by 110 to 323 — a 52% increase.

According to the foreword in the annual report, written by RIA principle officer Noel Dowling, this rise “may correspond with a general increase in destitution and homelessness nationwide”.

Of those flown home last year, 196 were repatriated to Romania, while another 29 people were flown home to Poland. Twenty-five people were repatriated to both Slovakia and Lithuania, while Bulgarians, Czechs, Hungarians and Latvians were also repatriated.

The overall cost of the return flights was €82,612 last year, with the repatriation flights to Romania accounting for almost €50,000 of the total. One flight, in July of last year, cost €6,449.

Charles Richards, manager of the Dublin-based Mendicity Institution charity, said the recession had resulted in an increase in the number of EU accession state nationals who had fallen into homelessness and had no access to state aid because of the Habitual Resident Condition.

Mendicity works with Polish charity Barka which has set up an Irish operation to help Polish people who become homeless and also those who go home. Mr Richards said, in the last three years, approximately 150 people would have been helped by the Mendicity/Barka operation, with about 60% of those from Poland.

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