Warning refugees are facing ‘street homelessness’ as 130 awaiting accommodation

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The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has warned that newly arrived refugees face being “street homeless” due to a lack of available emergency accommodation around the country.

he Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has confirmed that, since last Thursday, 130 asylum seekers have been told that there is nowhere for them to stay, RTÉ has reported.

Some 19 refugees presented at the IRC’s Dublin office today, saying there were told “accommodation is not available to them”.

The IRC said it contacted the State-run International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), which is responsible for accommodating people seeking asylum in Ireland, and it confirmed that it could not accommodate the refugees, however, the service said space could open up on tomorrow.

The IRC said it also contacted the Dublin City Council, but the local authority referred them to the IPAS.

The Refugee Council’s CEO Nick Henderson said the organisation attempted to accommodate the 19 people via its homeless emergency fund, but this was not possible due to a requirement to show proof of identification at the hostels it uses.

He said the asylum seekers are from various countries, including Georgia, Afghanistan, Congo and Zimbabwe, and range in age from 25-45 years.

“We’ve been able to give them some cash support to have access to a hot meal tonight. We suggested that they could go to garda stations and see if any support could be given to them. Dublin Simon Community sometimes pick people up from garda stations to try and get some shelter where it’s possible but in effect, they will be street homeless. They will be without shelter tonight,” he told RTÉ’s Drivetime programme.

“They were very tired, using our reception to get some rest and take some shelter from the rain…They were of reasonable spirits and thanked us for our support. They recognised the situation that they were in and obviously there was a lot of anxiety about whether this would be dealt with soon. The wider issue is one of very deep concern, that Ireland is not able to meet our legal obligations to support people who are seeking refuge in our country.”

Mr Henderson said while Minister Roderic O’Gorman, whose department is now accommodating more than 50,000 people, is aware of the issues facing asylum seekers, the “penny we really do think has yet to drop” with other parts of Government that the situation requires a “considerable amount of attention”.

He added: “We cannot go from one crisis to the next. A lot of things have been done very well for people fleeing Ukraine and we strongly commended the Government for that, but at the same time there are very deep-rooted problems on why we support people coming from other places and that needs attention. There are clear legal and ethical requirements and responsibilities that we must ensure we meet.”

Last week, Sport Ireland announced that the National Indoor Arena will be used to assist with the ongoing refugee accommodation crisis for a period of up to six weeks. 

It’s understood the centre will begin accepting asylum seeker in the coming days. 

Independent.ie contacted the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth for comment.

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