Refugees could spend more than one week in tented accommodation

Refugees could spend more than one week in tented accommodation

Gormanstown Camp Stock Images. Photo supplied by Government Information Services (GIS Office)

The secretary general of the Irish Red Cross has acknowledged there was “a distinct possibility” that refugees could have to stay longer than a week in tented accommodation in Gormanston.

Liam O’Dwyer said there was “a grave crisis” in the situation with regard to accommodation for refugees.

As student accommodation on university campuses will no longer be available from next month, this could mean the return of some refugees to City West, he said. 

From there the refugees would go to hotels, bed and breakfasts and institutional accommodation, he told RTÉ radio.

Mr O’Dwyer explained that of the 6,800 pledges of a room within a family home, only 35% will come to fruition. To date 1,300 have come through the process with a further 800 to 900 expected in the next two weeks.

A team of 50 Red Cross staff have made over 100,000 calls to people who pledged accommodation. Very often people were not at home when they called so repeated calls had to be made. Since they made the pledge 30% had changed their mind or their circumstances had changed.

Part of the process requires identification verification for every member of the family, which is often done during zoom calls, but it requires every member of the family to be present which can take time, he explained. The process was complex with numerous forms to be filled in. When forms are sent out the family has 30 days to return them.

Garda vetting takes two days, so there were no delays with that aspect of the process, added Mr O’Dwyer.

The Red Cross is at present in discussions with regard to accommodation for 1100 refugees who are at present in student accommodation in Maynooth and Dublin City universities.

As refugees continue to arrive the options available for accommodation will be narrowed. It is an emergency situation, and the people of Ireland recognised that as did the Ukrainian refugees arriving. 

“They are hugely grateful to be in a secure environment. The most important thing to them is to feel safe," Mr O'Dwyer said.

“It is a grave crisis. The situation may have to evolve.”

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