The Government is facing a major crisis in provisions for refugees entering the State in the coming months, with a shortfall of over 14,000 refugee beds projected by the end of March.
The Irish Times reported on Wednesday that Government briefing documents have warned the current accommodation system is “unsustainable”.
Papers drawn up last month by the Department of Integration show “projected shortfalls in the immediate short term” and warn that a “significant acceleration in cross-Government efforts” will be needed to source more accommodation.
Without it, they note, “it is inevitable that there will be shortages of available accommodation” and internal modelling shows “gaps in provision of accommodation emerging”.
Briefing documents drawn up for Minister of State Joe O’Brien, who is taking up new responsibilities in the Department of Integration, warn that the “present provision model is also unsustainable as oversight of accommodation at this scale and pace entails many challenges”.
Problems raised by the documents flag an inability to engage appropriately with communities on the relocation of refugees, and other “operational challenges”.
Also raised was the problem of “continued concentration of available accommodation in particular areas” where there are pressures on services such as health and education.
New reception centres will have to be opened around the country, as it is “inevitable” more people will continue arriving in the country, the minister was advised.
A €50 million fund has been drawn up for communities and approved by the Government, but warnings around its necessity show the depths of the concerns in the department. Officials said that without it “we risk being hostage to the far-right in many of our future negotiations, thus hobbling our ability to address our current accommodation shortage”.