Ireland prepares to welcome thousands of Ukrainian refugees

Around 1,800 Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in Ireland since the outbreak of war, the Government has confirmed.

It comes as the Irish Red Cross, working with the Irish Government, launched an online system allowing people to register offers of accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said on Monday morning that around 1,800 people from Ukraine have arrived in Ireland since Russian invaded.

The Irish premier said that Europe was looking at a “major humanitarian crisis”.

He said that 486 refugees arrived on Sunday and while around two-thirds of people have family connections in Ireland, that proportion is falling as the crisis escalates.

Emergency services attend after a large lorry crashed into the gates of the Russian Embassy in Dublin (Dominic McGrath/PA)

(PA Wire)

“More and more who don’t have connections with families in Ireland are arriving and it is fair to say we can expect that to increase significantly over the coming weeks,” Mr Martin told Newstalk.

“This is a major humanitarian crisis on the continent of Europe and the response to that will have to be outside of the norm.

“This is an exceptional humanitarian crisis brought about by war and it is a wartime situation, and therefore our responses have to be different to a non-wartime situation,” Mr Martin predicted.

As the world responds to the assault on Ukraine by Vladimir Putin, countries in Europe are preparing for a surge in refugees.

The United Nations announced over the weekend that more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine.

The Irish Government, alongside the Red Cross, have launched a new portal where Irish people can make offers of support and accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman said that all offers are “hugely welcome”.

“It’s important that people are aware that not all offers may be called upon immediately.

“In thanking people for coming forward, I would also ask for patience as we scale up what will be an enormous logistical response.”

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly also said that Ireland would provide medical cards and access to healthcare to those fleeing the war.

I have suggested that the Government was working on the assumption that a “very, very large number” Ukrainians could come to Ireland for refuge.

The pledges came on a day of drama at the Russian Embassy, ​​after a man was arrested after a large lorry crashed into the gates of the embassy in Dublin.

Irish police said the lorry hit the gates of the embassy on Orwell Road in south Dublin.

The incident provoked an angry response from the Russian Embassy, ​​with a spokeswoman accusing the Irish police of standing “idle” as the incident took place.

The Embassy has also accused Ireland of breaching the Vienna Convention by not protecting the premises from any damage.

Earlier, the first Irish politicians to visit Ukraine since the outbreak of war predicted that Irish families will have to play their part and open their homes to refugees.

Fianna Fail senator Timmy Dooley and MEP Billy Kelleher traveled to the Ukrainian city of Lviv for talks with political leaders.

Mr Dooley, the vice president of the EU Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (Alde), traveled 100 kilometers from the Polish border into Ukraine on Sunday.

It is understood they are the first Irish politicians to visit the country since the Russian invasion.

Mr Dooley said there will be much greater numbers fleeing the country over the coming weeks, and that appeals will have to go out to families across Europe, including Ireland, to open their homes.

“I have to say the response that I have gotten from people who have contacted me in the last week, there is a huge willingness by the Irish people to open up their homes and assist these people who are fleeing really a terrible situation,” he awning RTE.

Mr Dooley said he was invited by the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant Of The People’s party to visit the country after traveling to the border in Poland.

“What we saw on the other side of the border was a 20km tailback of cars.

“At one particular point, people standing in a line of about 5km,” Mr Dooley added.

People protest against the Russian war in Ukraine in Dublin city center (Niall Carson/PA)

(PA Wire)

“I would say there were people there for probably two days.

“It’s an appalling situation when you consider the low temperatures at night, recognizing that they’re vulnerable people, young families, an absence of men who are back on the warfront, elderly people being pushed on wheelchairs, people with physical disabilities being pushed on wheelchairs.”

Mr Dooley defended his decision to cross the border into Ukraine against official advice from the Irish Government.

“I accept and acknowledge that.

“But I think in the face of such human suffering, it was a calculated risk from our perspective,” he added.

“We had sought the advice of those that invited us and their best advice was that it was safe to travel to Lviv, which was about 100km on the other side of the border and was about 600 miles from where there was any shelling activity.

“We are preparing a report which will go to the Alde number parties.

“We’ll be passing that message back, which is that at European level, they’re very thankful for what’s being done to date, but the effort will have to be stepped up, it will have to be easier for those that are fleeing the battlefields.

“It will have to be easier for them to cross the border.

“Obviously then we will have to work to do when the refugees ultimately get to our respective countries.

“Poland is doing well at the moment, managing the numbers that are there.”

It comes as Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney travels to New York for a two-day visit.

He is to take part in a Council of Foreign Relations discussion on Europe’s response to the events in Ukraine.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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