The UN says over 1.7 million refugees have now fled the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. To date, it is estimated that approximately 2000 refugees have arrived in Ireland, while government figures suggest that number could rise to anywhere between 8,000 to 100,000. Limerick-based national migrant and refugee support organisation Doras says that while it’s still too early to get a full picture, they are currently experiencing a huge level of interest from Ukrainians seeking sanctuary in the mid west and throughout the country.
Doras CEO John Lannon says the charity is experiencing an extremely high level of interest in its services.
“Our phone lines are ringing out non-stop and we have numerous Ukrainian families arriving at our centre seeking urgent refugee resettlement and integration support. We are also hearing from people stranded at various borders. We were already really stretched supporting Afghan and other migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in areas like family reunification, visa and passport applications, social welfare, integration and language supports, and racism and domestic violence. So it’s an incredibly challenging time for us, but thankfully the people of Limerick are rising to support our efforts.”
“After 22 years in existence, we’re still without core funding from the government, which makes it very difficult to do what we do. This means the support of the people of Limerick and beyond is vital. People are incredibly generous with donations, fundraising and offers of accommodation. While we were initially managing accommodation offers, we are now signposting those to our partners in the Irish Red Cross, who are coordinating the government’s national effort. So, we encourage people with accommodation to visit www.irishredcross.ie, especially if the accommodation is for 6 months or more. We are also working hard to identify and support community sponsorship groups, who may wish to work with us to support refugees in finding and setting up new homes in the region”.
“Aside from accommodation, we encourage people to get in touch with us around any other areas they think they may be able to support with. This includes translation, transport, logistical, administrative or other support in areas such as graphic design or whatever skills people might be able to offer. We’re particularly keen for more companies and workplaces to get involved in fundraising and support efforts”.
“Ukrainian nationals, and those who were resident in Ukraine from the 24th of February 2022, are now entitled to temporary protection in Ireland and throughout the EU under the EU Temporary Protection Directive. Some of the details of how this will work are still unclear, but we are engaging with the Department of Justice and other departments to ensure people get their permission to remain and a PPSN which will ensure social welfare payments. . We need a united response from across society, including schools, community groups and other government agencies. It’s important that transport providers, bus and train stations, and airports like Shannon and Cork, are ready and prepared to welcome and support refugees. We also need much greater coordination at the national level”.
“While the situation in Ukraine is deeply shocking and distressing, we cannot forget the people fleeing from persecution and war in other parts of the world, including Afghanistan and Yemen. People from all over the world deserve the same protection here, and this remains a core focus for us”.
“Organisations like Doras will continue to step up as best we can. Currently, we are working around the clock but ultimately the State needs to take responsibility for its obligations to protect everyone fleeing from persecution and war. Minister O’Gorman has said that the Irish Refugee Protection Programme will fund additional resources for community sponsorship organisations like Doras to help us meet increased costs associated with welcoming people from Ukraine. As a human rights organisation, we will continue to demand the highest standards when it comes to the treatment of refugees. This includes keeping a spotlight on the Direct Provision system, which remains a huge source of concern. We can play a pivotal role in resettlement and support, but only if we have the resources and capacity to do so”.