Politics

State to take in 500 Ukrainian refugees who fled to Moldova


The Government has agreed to take in 500 people who have fled war-torn Ukraine to the neighbouring country of Moldova.

It has also approved €18 million for an emergency support scheme for the licensed haulage sector.

Cabinet ministers held a quickly-arranged incorporeal meeting today to examine further action that could be taken in light of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and the deep impact it has having on the global energy sector, including in Ireland.

With most Ministers abroad for St Patrick’s Day festivities, the meeting was held by video conference.

Given the significant increases in refugees fleeing the country, and those arriving into Ireland, it was decided that the State would quickly ramp up the humanitarian response in order to provide accommodation and other essential supports rapidly and at scale.

It is understand that it was agreed that refugees would begin to be accommodated in bed and breakfast lodgings as well as in some of the homes of the 20,000 people who have volunteered to host people escaping the war.

In a statement, the Government said that Russian military aggression must cease immediately “for the sake of the lives and safety of people in Ukraine. 

“Russia’s actions are simply unacceptable and the Government reiterates its strong solidarity with the Government and people of Ukraine.”

Energy costs

Cabinet ministers are said to have considered a number of challenges now arising for Ireland’s and, Europe’s economies, particularly the impact of rising energy costs – given the very significant increases in wholesale prices and supply constraints in the international markets for gas and oil.

Without committing as yet to any new measures for domestic users and motorists, the statement said the Government would continue to examine what measures may be taken to manage the energy supply and price impacts.

“The significant retail price increases announced today by Bord Gáis Energy are a matter of strong concern to the Government, particularly the impact on low income households. 

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen unprecedented levels of price increases and volatility in energy markets.”

In the statement it said preparations are being escalated to provide accommodation in: Hotels, guest houses and B&Bs; Accommodation pledged by the general public; State-owned or private properties which may be suitable for short-term accommodation; Religious properties; and Local authority facilities.

“Given the very extreme pressures being faced by Moldova in the current circumstances, the Government has agreed, as part of an EU response, to offer to accept from Moldova up to 500 people who have fled the war in Ukraine,” the statement said.

More than 20,000 offers to house refugees in spare rooms or empty homes have been received by charities seeking to accommodate tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war, who are expected to arrive in Ireland.

The Irish Red Cross, which is leading the efforts with the Department of Children, has received more than 15,000 pledges of accommodation, 70 per cent of which are rooms in a shared home.

Accommodation offers are required to be near services, with refugees being able to access a bank, post office, shops, schools and crèches, as well as English language courses and employment opportunities. The house would need to be close to public transport, and be a short commute to a nearby village, town or city.

Government ministers say they expect between 80,000 and 100,000 Ukrainian nationals may end up moving here. About a third are likely to be children.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said there will need to be a draw on the expertise of Ukrainian teachers and those with expertise in the Ukrainian language to help students integrate into Irish classrooms.

Ukrainian teachers will be fast-tracked through the registration process to allow them to teach in Irish classrooms.

Ambassador

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko has said that while talks continue in the hope of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict “we will never forget and we will never forgive”.

Ms Gerasko told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that to date 6,000 refugees have arrived in Ireland and plans are under way to set up a Ukrainian community centre where people could come to meet up with other refugees and get information.

People had a lot of questions – how to get education for their children, how to get them into school and kindergarten, how to access a GP. “It’s very difficult for them, some of them don’t have friends or relatives here. They don’t understand how the system in the country works.”

Ms Gerasko pointed out that many also did not speak English so the Ukrainian community was trying to assist with translators.

When asked how many Ukrainians she thought would come to Ireland, the ambassador said it was very difficult to predict, more would come, perhaps up to 80,000. But many Ukrainians did not realise that the visa requirement for Ireland had gone, she said. If Ukrainian media communicated that a visa was no longer needed for Ireland then “many thousands will arrive”.

Ms Gerasko thanked the Irish Government and the Irish people.

Her own parents remained in Ukraine and refused to leave their home to join her in Ireland. She said that she asked them every day to come to her. Ms Gerasko said her mother finished every conversation saying “I hope we will be alive tomorrow”.



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