Asylum seekers living in a Dublin hotel who were recently told they would have to be moved elsewhere have expressed fears some residents may end up in tented accommodation this winter.
Up to 350 asylum seekers staying in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Northwood in Santry, north Dublin, were informed by the Department of Integration earlier this week they would have to be moved as its contract with the hotel was ending.
Mohamad Camara (30), an asylum seeker from Sierra Leone, said residents were worried about where they might be housed next.
“Our worry is will we ever get accommodation that is permanent or suitable like this one — people are really worried” he told The Irish Times.
“I’ve been in Ireland for four months now, I haven’t been given a work permit. I don’t get the sort of resources to protect me from whatever circumstances I might be facing,” he said.
In a letter sent on Wednesday, the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) informed the hotel residents that it would “soon no longer be available to IPAS as our contract with the hotel is coming to an end”.
“Unfortunately this means that we will need to accommodate you in another location. The moves to alternative locations will commence shortly, and we will be carrying them out over the coming weeks.”
They were told that “due to the severe pressure on the availability of IPAS accommodation, we will not be in a position to take requests for moves to particular locations”.
“This is because we are simply not able to fulfil these requests, given the overall shortages of accommodation. We will be in touch with individual transfer letters which will confirm the new location where you will be accommodated.”
Sources said the group was almost all international protection applicants but might also include a small number of beneficiaries of the temporary protection directive who have fled Ukraine.
The State has come under intense pressure to source accommodation for Ukrainians fleeing the war with Russia, as well as for increased numbers of asylum seekers arriving from other countries.
The Department for Integration said in a statement that contracts covering 11,573 beds are due to expire before the end of the year. “However, we expect the vast majority of contracts not yet renewed to be renewed. This is not a hugely significant concern to [the Department] at the present time”.
A spokesman said that of those due to expire, no operators have indicated they don’t wish to renew their contracts. The spokesman said that nobody has been moved from emergency accommodation due to the expiry or pending expiry of contracts since September 1st.
Another asylum seeker staying in the Santry hotel, a father with one child from Zimbabwe, said moving at short notice was difficult for the children living in the hotel.
“We were in Wicklow before — we stayed there for three months, and my kid only went to school there for two weeks, and then we had to move. Now it’s not even a month and we’ve to move again,” he said.
“It’s not easy to plan if you keep moving up and down. They get to a place, they bond with other kids, they make friends, then all of a sudden they have to leave,” he said.
Another resident, a mother from Zimbabwe with two young boys, said her children had settled into the local area and their school and would be upset to leave.
“Right now the kids like the school, they like the teachers, they don’t want to move, they don’t want to change school,” she said. “Everyone is worried, everyone is talking about it, we don’t know where we are going, what is going to happen to us,” she said.
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