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May 28, 2022



Czech Caritas branch objects to Romani political party's critique of aid to Romani refugees from Ukraine, party stands by its allegations

13.5.2022 15:10
Romani refugees from Ukraine in a
Romani refugees from Ukraine in a "tent city" on the outskirts of Pardubice, Czech Republic.(2022) (PHOTO: Caritas Pardubice)

The branch of the Caritas organization in the Pardubice Region of the Czech Republic has objected to allegations made by the chair of the Roma Luma political party, Marc Cavali, who has commented on the situation of Romani refugees from Ukraine living in a "tent city" on the outskirts of Pardubice for news server The charity claims the allegations in the article entitled "In Pardubice, the rest of the Roma from Transcarpathia are surviving in tents" are biased and misleading, but Cavali insists they are accurate.

Caritas: The chair of Roma Luma is not telling the truth

"An article entitled 'In Pardubice, the rest of the Roma from Transcarpathia are surviving in tents' was published on 10 May at 16:11. While Caritas Pardubice does not have serious journalistic work within its purview, we cannot remain silent about such biased, misleading reporting. Already at the time this report was published, the tents where the Romani people waiting for visas had been temporarily accommodated were empty and they were on their way to the Refugee Facility in Bělá-Jezová," Caritas Pardubice said in a press release. 

"We are ensuring that the Roma in the Pardubice camp have at least enough food and are not sending their children into the city to beg,"  Cavali was quoted by news server as describing the Pardubice activities of his party, Roma Luma. Caritas considers this a false allegation and states that since Monday, 2 May, food and other aid, with the financial support of the Pardubice Region, was arranged for the Romani refugees from Ukraine by Caritas Pardubice.

"Around midnight on Monday the Romani refugees were accommodated in the firefighters' tents in Hůrky, and along with the firefighters we used our vans to deliver the first batch of basic food, plastic plates, etc. On Tuesday morning our first survey of the situation at that location took place," Caritas writes, ading that representatives of Caritas Pardubice and an interpreter provided by the Czech Police were on the scene.  

"Ever since then, three times a day, based on our assessment of the needs, Caritas Pardubice arranged for supplies and, according to our coordinator of volunteer services and food aid at the Regional Assistance Center for Aid to Ukraine (KACPU), Miloš Láško, we delivered aid, more than 1 000 kg. of groceries, medicines, personal hygienic supplies as well as clothing, shoes, prams and household items either from our own public collections, from the Social Wardrobe, or with the financial support from the Pardubice Regional Authority. It is not known to us that Romani children would have had to beg! The situation that we discovered during our own regular social work surveys on the spot certainly never indicated anything like that - we saw cheerful children playing with donated balls, scooters and other toys," Caritas Pardubice writes.  

"We comprehend that it is not interesting to publish a news report about how well everything is functioning, including delivery of health care to each refugee on an individual basis. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have been involved - the KACPU units, the police, the firefighters, the medics, the staff of the Pardubice Regional Authority, City Hall, our colleague at Caritas Pardubice Ivan Červeňák, who is the Romani coordinator and aided at that location with interpreting, Ms Magdalena Karvayová from Awen Amenca, a Romani organization, and Ms Lucie Fuková, who assisted with coordinating help from the local Romani community," Caritas Pardubice added in its press release, which describes in detail everything that was supplied to that location. 

"We had to arrange for clothing and footwear, and not just for the children, Caritas brought eight prams to that place, a countless amount of baby food, changing pads, cosmetics, diapers, formula and hygiene supplies for adults and children. At that location, everybody involved including the KACPU paramedics, Caritas nurses, firefighters, coordinator Miloš Láško and other Caritas Pardubice staffers addressed the health problems of the individual refugees, including arranging for medication for epilepsy, care for a little girl living with disabilities, drugs for sore throats and stomach problems. Caritas staffers, firefighters and others called ambulances to that location more than once or took adults and children to the hospital in Pardubice where they received specific aid," Caritas Pardubice writes.    

Caritas also says that according to Láško, who coordinated their volunteers, the collaboration with the Romani refugees from Ukraine was quite good and that they are very friendly, grateful, nice people. "We are all the more sorry when others take advantage of the refugees' situation just to promote themselves, or as the subject of an alarming article," Caritas Pardubice ends its press release.  

Cavali for CNN Prima News: We provided aid there, nobody else was there

Cavali is standing by his story and, during a discussion with the Governor of the Pardubice Region, Martin Netolický, on CNN Prima News alleged that it was Roma Luma in particular that delivered aid in Pardubice. "We were in Pardubice, we brought those toys, groceries and water. People were fighting over food there. We have it on film," he said, reproaching the Regional Governor for allegedly having never visited the "tent city". 

"That's not true, don't co-opt other people's work," the Regional Governor responded, quoting the Caritas press release. Cavali has posted a brief video to one of his Facebook social media profiles and called on the Regional Governor to apologize to him. 

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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