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Families reunited at Dublin airport as thousands of Ukrainian refugees arrive in Ireland

As the UK’s refugee scheme gets off to a sluggish start, Ireland says it’s now taken in a total of 2,123 Ukrainian refugees since dropping visa requirements immediately after the Russian invasion.

The true figure may be higher, as Ireland’s Department of Justice only maintains data for Dublin Airport, and doesn’t count any Ukrainians arriving at other ports of entry.

Hanna Kozlovska is one of the 2,123.

(From left) Ehor, Ivan, Hanna and Liza arrived in Dublin after fleeing Ukraine

She fled Kyiv with her three children Ivan (9), Ehor (7) and Liza (4).


Heading west, she says they lived in their car for four days, before getting across the Polish border.

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From there, they flew to Ireland where an old friend, Pavlo Iarovyi, has lived with his wife for years, working in Ireland’s burgeoning software sector.

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“We came to Ireland only because we have close friends here who provided their house to stay for us,” Hanna told Sky News from Pavlo’s comfortable home in the west Dublin suburb of Adamstown.

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Hanna and her family with husband Andriy
Hanna and her family with husband Andriy, who is in Poland helping another family flee

‘We drove into nowhere’

Choking back tears, she said: “When the shootings started we didn’t know what to do. We immediately packed and drove into ‘nowhere’.”

Although under Ukraine’s martial law, all men aged 18-60 must stay in the country, Hanna’s husband Andriy is allowed to leave, as he is a father of three children, which serves as an exemption.

He is currently in Poland helping another family but will fly to Dublin soon, a beneficiary of Ireland’s scrapping of visa requirements.

Ireland could host up to 100,000 Ukrainians

Ireland, along with the other EU member states, has brought forward temporary protection measures allowing Ukrainians to enter visa-free, and to stay for up to three years.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaking as he officially opened the Analog Devices Catalyst Facility, Raheen Business Park, Co. Limerick. Picture date: Friday March 4, 2022.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin described the refugee crisis as an “enormous challenge”

The Irish government has said it could eventually host up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, something described by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin as “an enormous challenge, the scale of which we’ve never dealt with before”.

Hanna said that she’s grateful to her host nation.

“I think at the moment the [Irish] government is doing a lot for helping Ukrainians, I really like how we were welcomed here,” she said.

Olga Sikora, a student from Ukraine, joins protesters gathered outside the Russian Embassy Residence, south Dublin, to call on Ambassador Yury Filatov to leave the country and to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Picture date: Sunday February 27, 2022.
Since the invasion into Russia began, protests have taken place outside the Russian embassy in Dublin

‘Everything is a disaster’ in Ukraine

At the capital’s airport, Sky News saw several Ukrainian families reunited at the arrivals hall in Terminal 1 after a Ryanair flight touched down from Rzeszow, a Polish city not far from the Ukrainian border.

A tearful Liubov Vyniarksa was greeted by her brother Vasyl Eliyashevskyy, who lives and works in County Waterford.

“They hope to come back to home”, he said. “But at the moment, you know, everything is a disaster there.”

Gratitude for their escape is mixed with a yearning to return to Ukraine at the earliest for many of the new arrivals.

Asked if her future lies in Ireland or Ukraine, Hanna Kozlovska is abrupt and adamant.

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“At the moment, I’m dreaming about going home.”

Until it is safe to do so, however, her family knows that in Ireland, they have a safe and comfortable refuge from the horrors of the conflict in their homeland.


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