2022-07-29 15:29:05 By : Mr. Wells Wen

More than 100 Ukrainian refugees slept on camp beds in the Aviva Stadium this week as the Government struggles to find accommodation for them.

The situation is likely to get worse in the weeks ahead as students return to colleges and refugees must be moved on from student accommodation.

The accommodation in the Aviva was to be used from July 22 to Friday, July 29, and refugees used the stadium's catering, toilets and showers, the Sunday Business Post reported.

The stadium was offered after the Department of Tourism and Sport put out a call out to sporting groups to provide accommodation for refugees.

It is understood that the GAA is also looking at potential buildings that could be given to the Department.

To date, 42,893 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland. Of those 32,653 have sought accommodation from the State. This is the equivalent of the population in towns such as Navan or Bray.

It is anticipated that 45,000 Ukrainians will have sought refuge in Ireland by the end of July, increasing to 50,000 people by the end of August.

Earlier this month, the Government ran out of accommodation, with Ukrainians being forced to sleep in chairs in Dublin Airport.

A space in the airport was loaned to the Department of Integration for a two-week period and will cease operation on Friday.

However, there will be increased pressure to source accommodation as colleges will return to campuses in the coming week. Up to 5,000 college beds were offered over the summer.

It is understood that there will now be an emphasis on moving people from college accommodation to pledged accommodation over the coming weeks.

Two weeks before colleges return, teams from the Department of Integration will be placed into student accommodation to 'persuade' refugees to move on.

There were initially 25,000 homes pledged by the public to the Irish Red Cross. However, 15,000 pledges were withdrawn. Over 3,000 of the remaining pledges were for vacant accommodation, while 6,600 were for shared accommodation. To date, 2,700 people have been placed in 900 pledged properties. There has been, it is understood, hesitancy amongst some refugees to move into pledged accommodation.

This is due to some properties being in areas that are considered 'too rural'. There is also concern amongst some refugees to move onto other areas when their children have settled in schools.

However, it is understood there has been greater uptake of pledged accommodation in recent weeks. It is anticipated that arenastyle accommodation - similar to what has been set up in Millstreet in Cork and Gormanston in Meath - will continue to be part of the answer to the Government's solution to accommodation. Work is under way to source further buildings that can be used for longerterm use. There is an acceptance within the Department of Integration that accommodation will be an ongoing issue and emergency places will be required to 'cover gaps when delays occur'.

Work on securing modular homes will intensify in the coming weeks. The Office of Public Works is seeking to develop 500 units to accommodate 2,000 refugees. Five sites, understood to be in four different counties, have been identified.

The OPW has run an expression of interest process and is evaluating bids received. Negotiations are expected to begin next week, with work beginning on the sites next month. It is anticipated the first modular homes will come into use from November, with more opening in the first quarter of 2023.

Elsewhere, local authorities have identified 3,100 beds in vacant properties and work is ongoing in a number of these. The Department of Social Protection has issued 45,688 PPS numbers to Ukrainian refugees and 22,423 are on State income support. A total of 29,695 medical cards have been issued, and 7,285 children enrolled in schools.

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