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Czech Interior Minister wants stricter checks on the passports held by refugees and changes to the aid offered them

10.5.2022 17:57
Vít Rakušan (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)
Vít Rakušan (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

The Czech Interior Ministry is preparing to tighten its monitoring of refugees coming from Ukraine; Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN) told journalists today there will also be a change in the aid offered to refugees, currently valued at CZK 5000 (EUR 200), which will no longer be offered in cash and will instead be delivered as goods. The minister told the tabloid Blesk.cz that applicants for aid will have to have a stamp in their passport showing they crossed the border of Ukraine in order to claim their humanitarian aid benefit. 

"That should apply as of Monday," the minister told Blesk's online "Epicenter" program, adding that the country would probably reap the benefits of this immigration from Ukraine around 2025. The steps that were publicized today are in response to problems that are associated with Romani refugees from Ukraine immigrating into the Czech Republic. 

Speaking at a press conference, the minister said the Regional Authorities must now find accommodation for Romani refugees from Ukraine because they rejected the buildings owned by the state that were suggested to them for such use. He claimed that such problems just exist in some regions. 

Accommodation for families who are Romani is being provided in certain places, according to the minister. Because of the Romani refugees, he will be negotiating with his Hungarian counterpart about faster vetting of those with Hungarian passports so it will not involve a formal procedure that artificially delays decisions on temporary protection. 

The minister stressed that the Czech authorities have to wait for Hungary to vet the applicants and cannot check the information on their own. He also said he will be holding a video call tomorrow about organized crime in the Transcarpathian Region that is related to migration with his Ukrainian counterpart. 

Rakušan reiterated that Romani refugees frequently have dual citizenship and are not entitled to aid in the Czech Republic if they are citizens of Hungary. "It is best that people who are not entitled to aid not come to the Czech Republic," he said of the planned negotiations. 

The minister said the Czech Republic will not be sending anybody in need back by "sitting them on a train", but after showing benevolence during the beginning months of the conflict in Ukraine, when the passports of refugees were not being checked strictly, he now wants officials to check whether the passports held by refugees show where they arrived in the European Union and were awarded temporary protection. Rakušan said he is negotiating with the Ministry of Transport about what the opportunities are to transport people who prove ineligible for assistance in the Czech Republic back to their country of origin. 

In addition to dual citizenship, the authorities must also deal with documents frequently missing altogether in the case of Romani refugees from Ukraine. According to volunteers who help refugees at the main train station in Prague, it takes several days for the authorities to verify their identities. 

Romani refugees also arrive in bigger groups that are difficult to accommodate together, frequently. Some local authority representatives have refused to accommodate Romani refugees from Ukraine on their territories.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Immigration, Interior Ministry, refugee, Roma



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