Each military tent will accommodate 16 people with separate showers and toilets, leisure and canteen facilities, Mr O’Gorman told RTÉ. It was a short-term measure where people would be housed for a “maximum” week, he said.
Tented accommodation could also be added to existing facilities across the country for asylum seekers to meet any potential surge in demand, O’Gorman said.
He also said a second reception center for refugees would open in “the next two to three weeks”.
Some 3,000 units in institutional buildings have been identified for refurbishment by local authorities and donated to the Housing Department to provide accommodation for refugees. The first tranche of 500 places will be handed over this week, which will further reduce growing accommodation pressure for refugees, Mr O’Gorman said.
Over the weekend, 780 refugees and asylum seekers were accommodated at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin, he told RTÉ. No one had to sleep in Dublin Airport’s old terminal over the weekend, as had happened a few days earlier, he said.
There have been 43,256 arrivals from Ukraine to Ireland since the start of the war until the week ending July 10, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office.
Additionally, some 7,080 applicants for international protection arrived in Ireland this year while in 2021 only 2,648 applicants arrived.
Refugee and migrant support organization Doras is concerned that refugees are sleeping on the ground and in tents and that this could signal a worrying new normal if not immediately addressed.
Doras CEO John Lannon said a basic accommodation standard is essential to meet our obligations to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
“While many of those we work with are grateful for any type of immediate food and shelter, the reality is that people need and deserve better than sleeping on the ground or in tents.
“This is particularly the case for people who have been traumatized or have specific medical needs, and in all situations the protection of children is paramount. This is the case for Ukrainians as well as for people from Afghanistan and others who need protection.
“Of course we have a national housing crisis, and have had for years, but we are still a wealthy country and we need to provide a basic standard of care and accommodation that does not allow people to sleep in extremely inadequate conditions.
“We have known for many months now, since the government signaled that up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees could arrive, that measures should be put in place.
“Everyone involved is working hard, but it’s just not enough to say we didn’t see this coming.
“The situation is also aggravating the distress felt by those on direct offer, which as we know is already a substandard accommodation system. Direct offer was itself a so-called temporary measure, introduced as early as 2000 in due to a shortage of housing.
“The recent white paper acknowledged the failures and the need to end this system, but now things look set to get worse rather than better, with the current failures adding to the acute pressure felt by people in this terrible system.
“All of this underscores the need for a new level of urgency when it comes to tackling the national housing emergency.”
“We call for greater leadership and common thinking, especially with regard to coordination between the national and local levels. Alongside our industry colleagues, we have met with the Taoiseach and raised this issue on several occasions.”
“We need better coordination and resources to ensure that those of us who work with refugees and asylum seekers can better respond to the enormous levels of distress and suffering we witness every day.
We *cannot* let this become the new acceptable norm – Plans to house asylum seekers in tents at three other sites amid a shortage of ’emergency’ accommodation. https://t.co/jTixhE6XJe
— John Lannon (@jclannon) July 17, 2022
“We need a comprehensive response, as we did with Covid, which should include the appointment of a national refugee response manager.
“We also need to see a government plan that articulates an approach to welcoming and accommodating refugees that does not rely on tents or other substandard accommodation.
“A key part of the necessary response, as demanded by the Ukrainian Civil Society Forum, is to mandate the Housing Agency to lead medium-term housing development for refugees.”