A Ukrainian woman has described the accommodation crisis faced by new arrivals as a “hopeless situation”.
Over the summer, the Government leased Dublin’s CityWest hotel to house people but it is currently at full capacity. The situation has become so desperate that people are now being asked to sleep at Dublin Airport and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned that Ireland could “no longer guarantee accommodation for everyone who arrives here”.
“It seems, sometimes, we forget the Ukrainians aren’t coming here on a holiday,” Anastasia Sytnyk told Lunchtime Live.
“From some of the stories I’ve read, these are people coming from hotspots with nonstop shelling, there’s electricity outages, no heat - especially before winter.
“It’s just really disheartening to hear that they’re coming here for refuge, for safety and they can’t go back home and they can’t come here.
“It’s just a bit of a hopeless situation.”
Of the nearly 54,000 Ukrainians who have fled to Ireland, roughly 42,700 are seeking accommodation from the state and Ms Sytnyk believes more will come during Eastern Europe’s “harsh winter”.
“They’re coming here as their last chance,” she continued.
“They’re seeing Ireland as a place where they’ll be completely safe because it’s a neutral country.
“They’ve heard how well people have treated Ukrainians here and now they don’t know whether to turn back. If they have to turn back, where do they go and it’s just up in the air really.”
She added that most Ukrainians are “extremely happy” and realised that there was a limit to what Ireland can do to help them.
“Ireland can’t accommodate everyone,” she said.
“And it would be selfish to ask them to do so when there’s already an accommodation crisis for students, the homeless and even families couchsurfing.
“I think because I have that experience, I’m painfully aware of how this is affecting the people of Ireland as well. They’re trying to help but there’s only so much they can do.”
The Ukrainian Action Ireland Group has said the Government’s “current approach is not working” and said officials urgently need to rethink their handling of the crisis.
“There’s been an incredible response at all levels from Government and communities throughout Ireland,” spokesman Anatoliy Prynakov said.
“However, we need a change of approach and increase in intensity because we can see the current approach is not working.
“It’s not enough to simply book out all the AirBnBs and hostels to accommodate refugees. That is simply not working or delivering enough beds.”
The group is urging the Government to speed up the retrofitting of vacant buildings as homes and build more modular housing as well.
They also think that increasing the current allowance people receive for hosting refugees would boost the number of people
“€400 with the current prices and the cost of living, it is nothing really,” he said.
“That would need to be upped significantly, I would say.”
Main image: Ukrainian refugees in the Aviva. Picture by: Donal McNamee/Business Post.