Category: Archive

‘Flotels’ proposed for asylum seekers

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — With the asylum-seeker housing crisis worsening as the numbers arriving continues to increase, the Irish government is investigating the buying or leasing of ships, known as flotels, to accommodate them.

The Department of Justice says there will be a shortfall of about 7,000 bed spaces for refugees and both flotels and putting up pre-fabricated structures on government-owned land are being investigated.

The flotels, which can accommodate 200 or more, are being used satisfactorily in other EU countries. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees does not have a problem with them, provided they are of a good standard.

"Our officials have just been to the Netherlands to see how they operate there," a Justice Department spokesman said.

The Irish Refugee Council has rejected the prospect of shiploads of asylum seekers moored offshore as "ill thought out and reactive." It said the flotels, which it described as glorified prison ships that would turn into floating ghettos, would alienate and isolate them.

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About 1,000 asylum seekers a month are arriving and the social services and housing authorities have been swamped.

"I am deeply concerned about the situation regarding accommodation available to asylum seekers," Justice Minister John O’Donoghue said. "There is an international and a humanitarian obligations on the government to ensure that all asylum seekers are accommodated."

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