Many people who offered to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees at the start of the war did not realise it was a long-term commitment.
Nearly 40% of the accommodation pledges made through the Red Cross portal are expected to fall through because the people who made them are now uncontactable.
Meanwhile, refugees are now being housed in mass accommodation centres with Government warning there will be a shortage of accommodation for refugees by the end of the month.
Around 24,000 pledges were originally made – with 2,200 vacant properties now approved for use and the Red Cross continuing to contact people who offered rooms in shared accommodation.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, The Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said government always expected a large portion of the pledges to fall through.
“Look there was a huge outpouring of generosity when this war started and people want to help,” he said.
“I think, at the time, people thought or maybe hoped this was going to be a brief conflict and the people’s need to be supported here in Ireland would be of a short-term nature.
“It has become more and more clear that that’s not the case; that this is medium to long-term commitment and I think, certainly in terms of those who have told us they are not in a position to provide the pledged accommodation anymore, the prime reason is that people just don’t feel they can give that long-term commitment.
“That’s something we expected when the initial range of pledges came in. It’s a significant commitment.
“That’s why we are so grateful for those who are still maintaining their pledges. We’re not entirely surprised there has been a drop-off there.”
As of Tuesday, just short of 25,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war had arrived in Ireland – with just over 16,000 seeking accommodation from the State.
The total is expected to rise to between 29,000 and 33,000 by the end of May.
The Millstreet Arena in County Cork took in the first of 320 expected arrivals this evening, with mass centres in Citywest and Gormanstown also ready to take people in.
Minister O’Gorman did not rule out paying people to take in refugees.
“It is certainly an issue we can consider,” he said.
“We never linked the provision of pledges with a payment and I don’t believe anyone is doing this for any reasons other than solidarity with Ukrainians having seen what is happening in that country but look it is certainly something we can consider.”
He said the use of mass accommodation will become more common moving forward.
“That’s what is being done in many EU countries right now and has been done from very early on,” he said.
“I know in Poland, I know in Romania, large stadia from very early on in this crisis, were taken over and camp beds put in them.
“I don’t think that anyone feels that that approach is the optimum. In a perfect world, it’s not what we would like to be providing for people but we’re not in perfect world. We are in a major European war.
“We are in a position that none of us expected to be in in January and our core role to Ukrainian individuals and families coming in is to provide them with shelter and provide them with security.
“That’s what we’re looking to do and we will do that in the best way possible for as many people as possible.”
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