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July 1, 2022



Czech capital and Government to "investigate" measures to motivate refugees from Ukraine to relocate from "overloaded" places

18.6.2022 7:32
The Mayor of Prague, Czech Republic, Zdeněk Hřib (2022) (PHOTO:  ROMEA TV)
The Mayor of Prague, Czech Republic, Zdeněk Hřib (2022) (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) and Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) reached agreement yesterday during a meeting on the refugee crisis that a set of measures will be created to motivate refugees from Ukraine to relocate from the capital into less-busy municipalities throughout the country and a coordination mechanism will be created for implementing the relocations. Hřib announced the agreement to the media after the meeting. 

Jakub Veinlich, the press spokesperson for Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN), told the Czech News Agency that the politicians have agreed to investigate mechanisms for redistributing the refugees. The leadership of Prague has long complained that a lack of capacities means the capital is overloaded with refugees from Ukraine. 

For that reason, the city has closed its Regional Assistance Center for Aid to Ukraine (KACPU) in the Vysočany neighborhood, which has registered more than 99,881 refugees since Russia's war on Ukraine began. "We explained the situation to the Prime Minister from the perspective of a local authority," Hřib said.

"I believe our views of the situation and our understanding of it are more aligned now. We then addressed the two requirements we had stipulated for the meeting," the mayor said. 

"The first is that a set of 'motivators' or measures will be created to convince refugees to relocate to places where locals will better know how to care for them," Hřib said. The second subject of the meeting was the creation of a coordination mechanism for realizing this relocation of the refugees away from the capital. 

The Government, or rather the Interior Ministry, will reportedly collaborate on that mechanism with representatives of local authorities whose municipalities or towns could be target destinations, which will require a dedicated IT system and support. "My perception is that the ball is now in their court, the Government said it will address how the coordination mechanism, together with the IT system, should come about," the mayor said. 

For its part, the Interior Ministry said the Interior Minister, the Mayor and the PM have agreed to "investigate" mechanisms for redistributing refugees from Ukraine to accommodation providers on a voluntary basis. At the same time, inducements of a positive nature will be "investigated" to persuade the refugees from Ukraine to choose parts of the country other than the capital for their residency. 

Over the past few months, the Mayor of Prague has been calling on the Government to reduce the welfare benefits being paid to refugees in overloaded regions in order to motivate them to relocate to regions that are less burdened. Yesterday the mayor was delivered a legal analysis explaining why that would be impossible. 

City Hall lawyers are currently studying that document and the city will then begin investigating other ways to motivate the refugees to relocate. "We want these four pages of reasons why something cannot happen to become four pages of ways to solve this problem," the mayor said. 

The city closed its KACPU during the night of Wednesday, 15 June. "At this moment it makes no sense to register refugees at a location where we do not know how to take care of them," the mayor said. 

"We would just be using state money to create a problem that we would then have to solve with more money from the state," the mayor postulated. The situation in front of the now-closed KACPU is calm, according to him, and only about 30 refugees reportedly went there during the day on Thursday. 

It is also said to be calm at the refugee camps in the Malešice and Troja neighborhoods of the capital. According to the most recent data reported by firefighters, on 14 June there were 136 refugees living in the Malešice refugee camp and 147 in the Troja refugee camp.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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