Ireland blames Britain's Rwanda policy for influx of migrants from UK

Dublin says it is experiencing a surge in asylum seekers at time services are stretched by arrival of refugees from Ukraine

Gormanston, an Irish Army camp near Dublin that will house refugees. Department of the Taoiseach
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Ireland is experiencing an influx of asylum seekers that it says has been triggered by the UK’s new policy of deporting some migrants to Rwanda.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said refugee accommodation was filling up with new arrivals who have entered the country from the UK at a time when Dublin's open-door strategy for refugees from Ukraine has led to the arrival of 40,000 people fleeing the war.

Travel between Ireland and the UK is open and barrier-free through the Common Travel Area meaning Northern Ireland has the only UK land border with the EU.

Mr Martin said that of those at the reception centre for Ukrainians at Citywest in Dublin, 70 per cent are asylum seekers — also known as international applicants.

“We will be analysing this, but something has happened in the last two to three months in terms of the surge within international protection applicants, something has clearly happened,” he said.

“That policy announcement — which I thought was a wrong policy announcement by the UK, a shocking sort of initiative in my view — to be doing some agreement with Rwanda, clearly may have motivated people utilising the Common Travel Area to come into the Republic.

"Yes, I think it is one of a number of factors.”

In the UK, the government has made the arrival of soaring numbers of refugees via English Channel crossings a key issue.

It has set up a system where failed asylum seekers using the Channel route are deported to Rwanda.

The Rwanda policy is still in its early days and faces legal challenges. All the candidates to replace Boris Johnson as British prime minster say they will press on with the programme.

Humanitarian groups working with migrants and the UN refugee agency have criticised the policy.

Mr Martin said there was now a “severe shortage” of state accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

He said the Irish Army would open a tent city at Gormanston military camp, near Dublin, to shelter as many of the latest arrivals as possible.

The Irish army is opening a tent city at Gormanston to shelter as many of the latest arrivals as possible. Department of the Taoiseach

Refugee aid groups, including the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, said on Friday that the CityWest facility was suffering significant overcrowding.

And Margarita Kalinichenko, from Ukrainian Action, said: “When you're a refugee, you know that this situation can happen and you see the situation in other countries as well. You just need to accept it if you want [to come]."

"They're trying to return to their normal life, which is absolutely understandable. It's hard to live on your backs all the time,” she added.

Ukrainian Yaroslavna Serova arrived in Dublin with her ill daughter Evgenia on Wednesday.

“I’m worried about my daughter’s condition. Nobody knows when we will be in Citywest hub or somewhere else just to have a bed and see a doctor. Nobody tells us anything."

UN warning

UNHCR is calling on the Irish government to urgently provide emergency accommodation for refugees.

Enda O'Neill, at UNHCR Ireland, said the government needed to make significant investment.

“The government is to be commended for its efforts to date in providing accommodation to the tens of thousands who have arrived in Ireland this year fleeing war and persecution,” he said.

“However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the current approach of contracting accommodation from the private sector has reached its limits.

“Significant investment is now required by the government to ensure that it has the capacity to meet the immediate need for shelter of new arrivals and to provide safeguards for the protection of children and other categories of vulnerable people.”

Updated: July 15, 2022, 1:03 PM
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