United with Ukraine
Sincere thanks to Senator Mary Seery Kearney, Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy TD, Galway TD Ciaran Cannon & Interim Secretary-General of the Irish Red Cross, Liam O’Dwyer for their contributions to tonight’s online event ‘United with Ukraine’.
A huge wealth of information on current supports & processes which is really helpful and answers many questions that are being raised locally. I have provided a summary of the points I noted below for your information and will continue to provide updates as details become available.
In terms of number nearly 10,000 individuals have arrived from Ukraine to date, 2/3 are female, 1/3 male, of all who have arrived 1/3 of these are children.
Liam O’Dwyer outlined the efforts o the Red Cross to date, my notes are as follows.
· 20,000 pledges received to date with regard to accommodation.
· 30% are vacant homes/ apartments, 70% shared accommodation in family homes.
· Initial focus of Red Cross is on vacant units are they will be faster to occupy as there are no child welfare issues to consider.
· Defence forces have provided 20 staff to assist in this work, in addition to Red Cross own staff resources.
· These staff are contacting those with vacant units and arranging to pass their details to local auctioneers in the relevant areas. These auctioneers are providing a free network to arrange to visit units, ensure that are of an appropriate standard and get additional details regarding location, transport etc.
· Microsoft Ireland have developed an app as part of their committed to supporting the work, this app allows the auctioneers to assess the property on site and directly report to the Red Cross Team. The property is then match and auctioneers arrange allocation.
· The Red Cross Team are also working through pledges for shared accommodation, contacting those who have pledged and outlining what this will entail.
· Due to the huge volume this is taking time and the Red Cross have asked people to be patient as they work through this.
· Everyone should be assured that the team at the Red Cross are fully committed and giving everything, they can get this all processed as quickly as possible.
Garda Vetting will be required or shared accommodation in order to ensure that safety & welfare of all refugees.
An Gardaí Siochana have given a committed of a 7 day turn around and have allocated additional resources to ensure that this happens.
Between 10 – 11 lager buildings have been pledged; these would accommodate over 10 to approx. 50 families.
These pledges should be made by contacting the Red Cross directly and arrangements will be made to link the person making the pledge with the relevant government Department who will be looking after these large buildings.
RED CROSS @ PORTS
The Red Cross have Teams as Dublin Port, Rosslare Port & Shannon Airport. They will be present at Dublin Port tomorrow.
Volunteers are present to welcome individuals and provide initial support.
Initial Response for shelter & funds
PPS Numbers are being provided at established Airport Hubs and additional Hubs in Limerick & Cork.
90% of all new arrivals are arriving at Dublin Airport. Dublin Airport & the DAA have provided a building to be used as an initial hub.
All refugees from Ukraine will be allowed access all supports are Europeans.
Letters are issued giving temporary protection (applied for 1 year but can be extended), 136 have applied for International Protection which is for a longer stay. Vast majority of those arriving wish to return home when safe.
All applicants for social welfare will initially be allocated a Supplementary Welfare payment of €206, their applications will then be changed to One Parent Family, Disability, Job Seekers payment etc as appropriate. A commitment has been made by Ireland to help Moldovia who are receiving a huge number of refugees are struggling to provide supports.
To date €20 million has been provided in financial donations by Irish people and companies. The Department are working with the Irish Red Cross to utilize this money appropriately.
Department of Justice is working with Refugees to document War Crimes to ensure appropriate records are in place when the time comes to address this issue.
Government Working Group has been established to deal with initial humanitarian response, this has now also established subgroups which will be focused on responses required in other areas including supports for those experiencing trauma, educational needs, additional training, employment etc.
Ciaran Cannon TD provided a personal account from his wife and himself who have recently hosted an Afghan couple for the last number of months. He spoke with honesty and compassion regarding the experiences, the challenges, and the huge benefits to opening your home to those seeing refuge. A strong focus of his comments related to recognising the individuals ‘agency to make their own decisions’ with regard to their life and their choices.
This is the first of a series of briefings being provided through the Fine Gael Network. There is huge acknowledgement that an unbelievable amount of work is still needed, that this work will need to be sustained for a long period and that the volumes coming to Ireland are presenting real challenges.
Concern was expressed by those in attendance (of which there were over 170), with regard to unhelpful and negative commentary that was appearing online. Although in small numbers it was agreed that this needs to be challenged.
Huge recognition was given to local people throughout the Country, individuals, GAA groups, community & voluntary organisations who have been and continue to be responding to the needs of our new communities and their committed was acknowledged and hugely welcomed by the elected representatives, who stated that the involvement of the local community was essential as part of the whole response.
As further briefings are held, I will continue to update you. Please get in touch if I can be of assistance or if you wish to attend such briefings yourself, please let me know.