Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar recently announced that the Irish government is planning to change its policy regarding Ukrainian refugees by making them pay for their accommodation in the country. Varadkar cited the housing crisis in Ireland as the reason behind this decision, explaining that the large number of Ukrainian newcomers has put immense pressure on the availability of housing.
During an official visit to South Korea, Varadkar emphasized the need to decrease the flow of newcomers in order to give Irish authorities more time to address housing and other pressing issues. He noted that other EU member states do not offer unlimited and cost-free state-provided accommodation to refugees, and he wants to bring the conditions in Ireland in line with those in other Western European nations.
Approximately 30% of the 500 to 800 Ukrainians arriving in Ireland each week have claimed temporary protection in another European state before moving on to Ireland. Varadkar assured reporters that Ukrainians will still be welcome in the country, despite the change in accommodation policy.
In addition to charging for accommodation, the Irish government is also planning to revise social welfare benefits to encourage Ukrainian refugees to seek employment. The exact details of these changes have not been finalized yet.
Meanwhile, in Germany, efforts to integrate Ukrainian refugees into the local labor market seem to be faltering. According to a report by Der Spiegel, new legislation introduced by the German government may actually discourage newcomers from seeking jobs. Under the new rules, Ukrainian refugees now receive €502 ($540) a month in ‘citizens’ benefits,’ as well as an apartment instead of shared accommodation. However, regional officials have noted a decrease in the willingness of Ukrainian refugees to work since the introduction of the new benefits system.
According to Andrea Nahles, the head of the Federal Employment Agency, the employment rate of Ukrainian refugees in Germany currently stands at 19%. As of late September, the number of Ukrainian refugees in Germany has exceeded one million, according to estimates by the Mediendienst Integration information service.
The change in policy regarding accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in Ireland reflects the growing strain caused by the housing crisis. The Irish government hopes that by implementing this new policy, they will be able to better manage the influx of newcomers and address the urgent housing needs of both the refugee population and the Irish citizens. Despite these changes, Prime Minister Varadkar reassures Ukrainians that they will still be welcomed in the country.