Ireland could receive more than 80,000 Ukrainian refugees

The UN says more than 1.5 million people have fled and the number could reach 4 million

An anti-war protest outside the Russian embassy in Dublin this weekend. PA

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More than 80,000 Ukrainian refugees could arrive in Ireland, a government minister confirmed, after the UN said on Sunday that more than 1.5 million people had fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

James Browne, minister of state in the Department of Justice, said the movement of people from Ukraine was on a scale not witnessed in Europe since the end of the Second World War.

“The last time we’ve seen a kind of movement like this, to this degree in Europe, was at the end of World War Two when we saw a huge movement of German people who became refugees at the end of that war,” said Mr Browne.

“We haven’t seen anything like this since then.”

Around 1,400 people have entered Ireland, many of them to stay with relatives who already lived in the country.

Government ministers are examining options to accommodate the unprecedented number of further arrivals, including the use of modular homes on state land.

Members of the public will also be asked to volunteer to host refugees.

“We have learnt a lot over recent years in terms of dealing with the pandemic. We do know we have that capacity and that generosity and capability within a country to mobilise when we need to in the face of a very, very serious situation,” said Mr Browne.

“But we are now potentially looking at 80,000-plus. There is not going to be any cap on those numbers coming into this country.”

Last week the head of the of the UN's refugee agency Filippo Grandi said that he had “rarely” seen a flight as rapid as the one taking place in Ukraine.

Out of the total of 1,369,000 refugees recorded on Saturday, about 756,000 had crossed into Poland.

More than 100,000 had arrived in each of Hungary, Moldova and Slovakia, while others had reached Romania and smaller numbers went to Russia or Belarus.

Many more are expected to follow them in escaping Ukraine, with the UN fearing that more than four million will eventually be forced out by the war.

The total represents about 3 per cent of Ukraine’s population.

Updated: March 06, 2022, 3:41 PM