I propose to take Questions Nos. 668 and 669 together.
As of 2 September 2019, 7241 people were residing in accommodation provided by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA). Of this total, there were 1,200 applicants residing in 31 Emergency Accommodation locations.
The contractual obligation on the providers of emergency accommodation is for the provision of bed spaces and full board accommodation (breakfast, lunch and dinner). RIA often does not have exclusive use of the premises and many of the hotels and guesthouses continue to operate on a commercial basis.
In the first half of this year, there has been a 36% annual increase in the number of international protection applications received. To meet the associated increased demand for accommodation, RIA has initiated two processes to source additional accommodation. RIA has sought expressions of interest from parties who would be interested in providing accommodation and related services to people in the international protection process and has also launched a nationwide, regional tendering process to source new accommodation centres.
These new centres, which are expected to begin opening in the coming months, will provide for independent living for residents by way of cooking facilities and an onsite food hall. I expect that they will significantly enhance the daily lives of applicants and in particular families and children.