Ireland’s housing crisis puts refugees and the homeless in dire straits -Dlight News

Ireland's housing crisis puts refugees and the homeless in dire straits

Thousands of Irish tenants face the prospect of eviction from next month, amid a housing crisis that has spread to refugees and asylum seekers seeking asylum in the country.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whose government is ending the winter ban on evictions from April 1, has said Ireland is 250,000 homes short of what it needs.

The drastic influx comes as the nation of 5.1 million people struggles with record homelessness and the challenge of sheltering Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers from other countries.

“Now we are accommodating 58,000 Ukrainians and 20,000 people under international protection. There is real pressure on housing,” said Integrations Minister Roderick O’Gorman.

Fringe far-right groups have seized on the housing crisis and staged rare protests, some with banners proclaiming “Ireland is full”. Racist attacks on migrants have also damaged Ireland’s socially progressive image.

With the housing crisis expected to worsen this year, experts and tenants say the wave of evictions will put pressure on emergency services that are already at breaking point. A record 11,754 people – nearly a third of them children – needed emergency shelter at the end of January, according to the latest. Official data.

Sinn Féin, the opposition group which is Ireland’s most popular party and campaigner on housing, says 10,000 people could be evicted this year. He has urged the government to “show some compassion” and reinstate the eviction ban.

The government said more than half of the eviction notices issued last autumn fell during the ban period, meaning most of those tenants would be protected. But he admitted that more than 2,000 people warned last year could still be asked to leave their homes.

The ban was imposed last October to prevent landlords from evicting tenants during the housing affordability crisis. Ministers saw the eviction ban as only a temporary measure and said ending it would protect landlords who, for example, faced rent arrears or wanted to sell their property.

Further complicating the housing issue, some hoteliers are considering taking back rooms contracted to the government to house Ukrainian refugees.

Such contracts can be attractive during the winter lull, but some hotels, especially in urban areas, could make more money by turning to tourism in the peak season that starts next month, experts say.

In January, Ireland went so far as to appeal Social media Refugees don’t come if they’re in a safe place, saying they’ve run out of space. About 2,000 Ukrainians Fewer refugees arrived That month, the biggest decline in the EU was in December.

The situation is even worse for non-Ukrainian asylum seekers. Unification Minister O’Gorman has had to appeal to colleagues for sports, arts, conference and student leisure centers as well as any other hall “where camp beds, mattresses, sleeping bags” can be placed to meet the unprecedented demand.

Dozens of applicants have recently been rehoused in tents, despite the government’s earlier pledge to find suitable housing for everyone.

The number of people seeking asylum in government housing rose 150 percent to nearly 20,000 in early February, up from 8,000 in early 2022. Last year, Ireland received the record. 13,651 applications for asylum; The previous high was 11,634 in 2002. In January, applications for international protection surged – including large numbers from Algeria, Nigeria, Georgia, Somalia and Zimbabwe. 234 percent over the same period last year.

In a country not known for right-wing extremism and where One of the eight People were born abroad.

Men with dogs, sticks and baseball bats attacked a migrant camp in Dublin in late January. At a recent demonstration in February, protesters were encouraged to “burn” refugees “in the name of our culture”.

An Ireland Thinks poll last month found that 56 percent of respondents thought the country had accepted too many refugees.

In a show of support last month, around 50,000 people held an anti-racism rally in the Irish capital. Varadkar said “refugees are welcome” and was condemned by the country’s president, Michael D Higgins.Sow hate and build feesr” around those in need of protection.

John Lennon, chief executive of Doras, an independent not-for-profit group promoting the rights of migrants, said the asylum accommodation system looked “frustratingly broken”.

In a country shaped by migration to escape famine and economic hardship, “more can be done . . . To do what has been done for Irish people around the world: to provide a new beginning for them”, he said.

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