Room to Improve: The Experiences of Ukrainian BOTPs in State Accommodation (2024)

This report draws on the experiences of 989 Ukrainian Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection who, at the time of our survey, were living in State-provided accommodation. The report highlights conditions in hundreds of accommodation centres across Ireland, particularly the overall quality of the accommodation, quality of food in serviced accommodation, issues on child welfare and gender-based violence.

Executive Summary

Since the inception of the Direct Provision system in 2000, Doras has observed and reported on the conditions of State-provided accommodation for people seeking protection in Ireland. We have repeatedly called for an end to the for-profit model of accommodation, and for state-owned, own-door accommodation that respects everyone’s dignity and human rights. 

The arrival of people from Ukraine after the full-scale invasion of the country by Russia on 24th February 2022 coincided with an increase in the number of people from other parts of the world seeking international protection in Ireland. Over the space of two years, we moved from a commitment to ending Direct Provision to the proliferation of the for-profit model of accommodation providers.

Through our work we became aware of stark differences in the quality of accommodation provided, with ongoing concerns over health and safety, child protection, lack of privacy, and several other issues. Conditions in State accommodation for international protection applicants have been well documented, but to date there has been no broad assessment of the accommodation provided to Ukrainian beneficiaries of temporary protection (BOTPs). To address this gap we developed a survey to gather qualitative and quantitative data on residents’ experiences.

The aim was to identify and report on patterns and trends in the provision of accommodation. This report presents the findings from the survey, followed by a number of conclusions and recommendations.

Research Findings 

Between January 29th and April 1st, 2024, Doras conducted an online survey with 989 Ukrainian Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection (BOTPs) living in State-provided Accommodation Centres across Ireland. The survey was anonymous and was shared directly with residents.

The survey identified a range of factors as significant. These include type of accommodation, having private bedrooms, type of service provision (serviced or self-catering), staff attitudes and responsiveness, poor facilities for children, and lack of complaints mechanisms.

The research found that:

  • 1 in 3 rated the overall quality of their accommodation as very poor or poor 
  • 1 in 10 had concerns regarding gender-based violence in their accommodation centre
  • 1 in 6 had concerns regarding the safety of children in their accommodation centre
  • 1 in 4 reported not having appropriate accommodation and/or inadequate supports for people with additional needs 
  • 1 in 3 said there was no complaints mechanism
  • 60% of people in serviced accommodation rated the quality of meals provided as very poor or poor
  • Undercooked or rotten food was reported in 2 centres. Worms and maggots were reported in food in one centre
  • Cases of food poisoning were reported in 3 centres
  • Rats or mice were reported in 6 centres
  • 43 accommodation centres had no transport links 

Recommendations 

The following are the key short-term recommendations emerging from this research to ensure appropriate and safe service delivery to BOTPs in State-provided accommodation:

  1. All BOTP accommodation centres should be required to comply with the Children First Act 2015. The Act requires the providers of Relevant Services that come under the definition in the Act, which are in operation for greater than three months, to have a child safeguarding statement in place. They must also undertake an assessment of any potential for harm to a child while availing of the service.
  2. Ensure that staff working in accommodation centres are suitably qualified and trained. In cases where there are children present, they should also be Garda vetted.
  3. A set of standards should be developed for BOTP accommodation centre providers, with an expanded system of inspections to ensure compliance. These standards should also cover emergency accommodation provided to international protection applicants[1].
  4. Provide additional funding for community-based organisations, as having a local link to communities has been proven to exponentially increase the chances of successful integration of BOTPs.

By taking these actions, the overall welfare of people who have come to Ireland to seek refuge can be improved, thereby ensuring that they receive the care and respect they deserve and can successfully integrate into their new communities. 

 

[1] HIQA is currently mandated to only monitor compliance of permanent accommodation centres for people in the international protection process.