Ukrainian refugees arriving in Ireland will have been traumatised, the secretary general of the Irish Red Cross has warned as people pledge offers of accommodation.
Liam O’Dwyer urged the public who have pledged to host refugees to be patient as offers of accommodation are processed.
On Friday morning the number of pledges was at 13,400, but that could be much higher, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show. There were more pledges in the system that had not yet been accessed.
“We’ve never seen a response on a scale like this.”
The huge volume of offers is being processed by a team of volunteers who will telephone to acknowledge each pledge and this will take time, he said.
When the Red Cross previously sought pledges for accommodation for refugees from Syria, there were 1,000 offers. “This is way beyond that.”
There should be no cost to host families, and any extra costs incurred such as heat, lighting and food will be covered by the refugees who will receive social welfare, he said. Host families would not receive any payment for hosting refugees.
Pledges of accommodation are being sought in every county in the country, with 151 already received from Roscommon.
When asked if pledges would require garda vetting, Mr O’Dwyer said that the Red Cross had previously sought advice on this when refugees were arriving from Syria.
The advice was that once a parent was with refugee children, Garda vetting would not be required.
Mr O’Dwyer repeated an appeal for cash donations to assist the Red Cross and other aid organisations at the borders with Ukraine in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, where aid workers on the ground can better assess exactly what is needed and provide it.
He acknowledged that there were issues with items such as clothes being donated and then being stockpiled. Over €15 million has been donated in Ireland to date, he added.
Items such as food, blankets and medical supplies can be sourced closer to where they are needed, he said.