Number of Ukrainian Refugees Arriving in Ireland Reaches 54,000

Image Credit: Max Kukurudziak, Unsplash

As the war in Ukraine enters its eighth month, the number of refugees arriving in Ireland displaced by the war has risen to 54,000.

Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s invasion arrive in Ireland at a moment when the State is experiencing an ongoing housing crisis and other economic and social challenges. The collision of a devastating humanitarian crisis with insufficient housing supply has created a tense climate for these refugees.

Since the initial arrival of refugees, Ukrainian support centres have opened in Dublin, Cork, and Limerick, and have acted as significant centres for newcomers assimilating as residents of Ireland. Essential aids, which includes emergency accommodation, healthcare, and employment services, have been made available to refugees in line with the European Union’s Temporary Protection Directive. UCD played a significant role in integrating the Ukrainian arrivals. Since May, the University has provided housing and support for the people of Ukraine seeking refuge in Ireland. The university housed some 235 Ukrainian citizens in campus accommodation over the summer; however, many were relocated into hostels, hotels, and other temporary accommodation as University students returned in September. The university continues to provide English classes to Ukrainian refugees and assistance to those wishing to resume their studies.

A survey by Ukrainian Action Ireland, published in June, highlighted the perspective of Ukrainian refugees building their new lives in Ireland. The survey collected 2191 responses and cited challenges experienced by the Ukrainian people, such as language barriers, uncertainty with accommodation, ongoing relocation, and difficulty finding a job that matched their qualifications. Respondents also expressed concern about accessing a bank account and bank card. Constant relocation was described as the most pressing issue because of the problem it poses for those looking to integrate into new communities. Access to essential services and isolation in remote areas were cited as other critical challenges experienced by the people of Ukraine.

In October, a report published by the Irish Refugee Council advocated on behalf of Ukrainian refugees and expressed further concern about the housing situation. The report described the situation as extremely serious and unprecedented, stating that the state is close to exhausting accommodation options. The Council identified 3,800 asylum seekers residing in direct provision and expressed concern that reliance on charities and individual civil servants was unfeasible.

Despite the overwhelming reality faced by refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine, their responses in Ukrainian Action Ireland’s survey highlight their optimism and gratitude as they face adversity. Respondents expressed overall satisfaction with the accommodation and communicated appreciation to the Irish Government. One respondent poignantly remarked that the current challenges experienced during this integration period 'seem irrelevant compared to the first days of war.' Other contributors expressed gratitude for the support they received from Irish people, with one participant of the survey writing, “I never expected this level of support. Thank you for your respect to us.” As Ukrainians grapple with an indefinite future, it has become clear that the Irish state must continue to support the people of Ukraine as temporary displacement transitions into a long-term reality.