#minorsextrafficking | Dedicated housing unit for trafficking victims to open in autumn

A dedicated accommodation centre for victims of trafficking is expected to open this autumn, more than a year after the establishment of a specialised unit was confirmed by the Government.

The Department of Children and Equality said it will invite not-for-profit organisations to submit proposals on accommodation for trafficking victims in the coming weeks. In the meantime, victims will continue to be provided with temporary accommodation “in as appropriate a setting as possible”, it said.

The tender callout comes nearly 10 months after the Department of Justice and Equality confirmed the unit would be set up and run by Irish charities DePaul and Ruhama. While responsibility for policy around human trafficking still sits with justice officials, the Department of Children and Equality now oversees the accommodation of trafficking victims.

A department spokesman said the opening of the unit had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the management of asylum seekers currently in the direct provision system and the opening of new own-door family centres.

While a proposal from DePaul to run the unit was originally accepted following exploratory talks, it was not signed off by senior justice officials, he said. Since then, the department of children decided to use a competitive process to find an NGO to run the centre, he added.

The spokesman said the unit would open on a trial basis catering for eight to 10 victims while its capacity would remain under review by justice officials, the HSE and a Garda Síochána. Bidders will be requested to have the centre established by this autumn, he added.

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