The main reasons for Ukrainians seeking protection in Ireland following Russia’s invasion last year are English being the main language, geographical remoteness from Russia and provision of housing by the State, according to a survey conducted by Ukrainian Action in Ireland (UACT).
The survey was conducted in February this year by UACT, a registered non-profit organisation set up by Ukrainian and Irish volunteers in response to the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion in 2022.
A total of 7,938 Ukrainians took part, including 4,273 adults and 3,665 children, representing approximately 10 per cent of all Ukrainians that requested temporary protection in Ireland at that time. The largest number of respondents (48 per cent) came to Ireland during the Spring of 2022, 25 per cent in summer 2022, and the rest arrived later.
An average of 88 Ukrainian refugees continue to arrive in Ireland every day, senior officials told an Oireachtas committee on Tuesday.
Over 83,000 Ukrainians have now been granted temporary protection orders and more than 61,000 of these have been provided with accommodation around the country - “the equivalent of the population of Co Carlow”, officials told the Oireachtas committee on equality and integration.
The UACT report said, if Ireland was not the first country of entry, the main reasons Ukrainians gave for moving on from other countries was because of a “totally unknown language”, difficulty accessing employment, bureaucracy, or lack of support from people in the region.
When asked for their reasons for seeking protection in Ireland rather than elsewhere, 73 per cent said English is the main communication language in Ireland, while 53 per cent said it is geographically far away from Russia.
Some 50 per cent listed State support with accommodation as a reason for seeking protection in Ireland, 40 per cent said there were “simple and clear entry rules”, while 35 per cent said their relatives, friends or acquaintances lived in Ireland.
Financial support from the state was provided as a reason for choosing Ireland by 34 per cent of respondents.
Some 55 per cent of respondents were living in a hotel or hostel paid for by the State, while 10 per cent had housing provided for a “symbolic fee” or free of charge.
Another 8 per cent said they were living in rented housing at market price.
Fiona Hurley, chief executive of Nasc, told The Irish Times the findings of the survey “tally with the anecdotal feedback we receive from our clients and service users – with English language and distance from Russia being two major reasons for choosing Ireland”.
“Additionally, Ukrainian beneficiaries of temporary protection have been quick to praise the warm welcome they have received from local Irish communities,” Ms Hurley said.
Latest data from the European Council shows Ireland has the fifth-highest number of Ukrainian refugees as a proportion of the population in the European Union.
As of the end of March, there were 79,335 Ukrainian refugees receiving temporary protection in Ireland, the 10th highest figure for any member state.
The Eurostat figures show Ukrainian refugees account for 1.5 per cent of the population in Ireland, with Czech Republic being the country with the most per population (almost 5 per cent). The lowest is France with just 0.15 per cent pro rata.
France is one of several European countries that has accepted a small number of refugees compared to its population size. Others are Sweden (24,375); Denmark (34,470); Belgium (63,085); Austria (70,585) and Hungary (30,335); and Portugal (46,465).