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July 6, 2022



Czech Health Minister: Room for Romani refugees from Ukraine has to be found outside of Prague

15.5.2022 15:41
Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Vlastimil Válek speaking on 15 May 2022 on CNN Prima News -
Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Vlastimil Válek speaking on 15 May 2022 on CNN Prima News - "Partie" program. (PHOTO: Prima TV)

Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09) said today on CNN Prima News "Partie" program that localities outside of Prague must be found for accommodating Romani refugees from Ukraine. However, the Interior Ministry's proposals so far have encountered resistance from Regional Authorities, in his view. 

The Health Minister said he is planning to meet with Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) about the situation in the capital next week. A "tent city" for refugees from Ukraine was erected last week in Prague's Troja neighborhood.  

On its first day of operations yesterday, the "tent city" received 77 refugees and more will arrive today, Kateřina Suchánská, spokesperson for the firefighter brigade in Prague, told the Czech News Agency. The facility is meant to serve especially for the refugees who are currently stuck at the main train station in Prague.  
The refugees are meant to live in the Troja facility while waiting to learn whether they are eligible for temporary protection visas. Speaking during the CNN Prima News debate, the Health Minister said that collaboration with Regional Governors must be found by the Government in localities that will be willing to receive Romani refugees beyond Prague. 

In recent weeks, the cabinet suggested many state-owned properties where the Romani refugees could be placed, and Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN) spoke at the close of April of as many as 21 such locations. The Health Minister pointed out that these plans go adrift because of local resistance. 

"If we identify a locality, we have to facilitate their living there and not unnecessarily exacerbate this situation," the Health Minister urged. Mayor Hřib called last week for creating a mechanism for the redistribution statewide of refugees among different regions due to the influx of refugees to Prague. 

The mayor has argued that currently in Prague there are four times as many refugees from Ukraine per 1 000 inhabitants than in other regions of the Czech Republic. The Health Minister said he will speak with the mayor next week about the health dimension of this situation. 

Czech MP Jiří Mašek (Association of Dissatisfied Citizens - ANO) said that he considers it an error that more detailed information about refugees from Ukraine was not ascertained by the state in March as part of efforts to be as welcoming as possible. When registering refugees in the Czech Republic at that point they were not asked to provide evidence of having actually crossed the border of Ukraine into the Schengen zone, he noted. 

"Many necessary things of this type were not ascertained, such as whether they want to remain here," the MP said. In his view, the cabinet should inform the public about how it intends to further resolve the situation of the refugees at the main train station in Prague. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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