Ireland suspends visa-free travel for refugees from Europe to make room for Ukrainians

11:21 19 July Kyiv, Ukraine

Ireland has suspended the visa-free regime for refugees from most of Europe to make room for Ukrainians.

Politico writes about it.

The Irish government made the decision on Monday evening after the country, which has already taken in more than 43,000 Ukrainians, ran out of places intended for newly arrived Ukrainians because refugees from other countries took them.

As a result, hundreds of Ukrainians, mostly women and children, who ended up in Ireland since Thursday, were forced to spend the night on the floor of an abandoned Dublin airport building, and from Tuesday will be temporarily housed in a tent city built by the Irish army north of the Irish capital.

Dublin attributed these problems to an unexpectedly strong flow of non-Ukrainian refugees arriving from elsewhere in Europe, with current volumes now double pre-pandemic rates.

The government has cited UK threats to deport newly arrived asylum seekers to Rwanda as one of the factors encouraging more people to move to Ireland.. However, his decision will not affect the flow of refugees from the UK.

By decision of the government, visa-free entry for refugees from 20 countries has been suspended for 12 months: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

All of them, like Ireland, are signatories to the Council of Europe Agreement on the Waiver of Refugee Visas, a 1960 pact that allows people seeking refugee protection in one signatory country to travel to other signatory countries for up to three months without a visa.

The agreement gives the parties the opportunity to suspend it. This is the first time Ireland has done this.

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney stressed that the change "will help protect Ukrainians and other nationalities fleeing conflicts by reducing the abuse of the system."