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July 6, 2022



Czech NGO aiding refugees says if Government doesn't begin resolving the Prague train station situation, they will stop providing legal assistance there

18.5.2022 13:45
Martin Rozumek
Martin Rozumek

The Romani refugees from Ukraine who are stuck living at Prague's main railway station in the Czech Republic have seen no improvement to their situations - of those who have been sleeping there, just 17 were moved to the new "tent city" and 450 Romani refugees from Ukraine slept there Monday night, 250 of them in a parked train. Martin Rozumek, director of the Organization for Aid to Refugees (OPU), informed Czech Radio's Radiožurnál program of this information today.   

OPU is one of the organizations dealing with the humanitarian disaster right at the station and is considering ending its provision of legal aid there. Accommodation in the "tent city" is available for refugees from Ukraine who are waiting for their identities to be verified.

Such refugees should stay at the facility in the Troja neighborhood while the decision is made as to whether or not they are eligible for temporary protection visas. Currently there are 142 refugees there, 101 of whom are children, Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan previously told the media. 

"What is persisting is a situation that is undignified. If it continues, we will leave this operation and it will just have to be handled 100 % by the state, because it is not possible to do the Interior Ministry's job for them," Rozumek literally said. 

Nikola Taragoš of the Romodrom organization said he estimates the number of Romani refugees from Ukraine in the Czech Republic as anywhere between 2 200 and 3 000. That number coincides with Rozumek's estimate of 3 000 Romani refugees in the country.

If not for the rejection of the Romani refugees from Ukraine, Rozumek, who is a lawyer, said that he would consider the current situation to have been dealt with excellently by the Government. What's more, even if some Romani refugees from Ukraine have come to the country just for the prospect of financial assistance, they still have the right to initiate a proceedings for temporary protection, just like all other refugees. 

After all, the Romani refugees are coming from the same country affected by war as their non-Romani counterparts. Rozumek made those remarks in an interview for the website.

"We have ascertained, as an organization, through our volunteers at the main train station, that there are 11 different situations in which the Roma refugees from Ukraine are ending up. Unfortunately, nine of those are ones in which they never even begin a proceedings for temporary protection. This is not just about dual citizens, but also those who have registered in a different country, or people without any documents, or those at some stage of vetting. Such investigations can last as long as nine days, during which these people are not taken care of at all. Also, the bureaucrats are frequently requiring marginalia, such as a passport stamp proving entry into the Schengen Zone. I have never before found situations where the beginning of a procedure for temporary protection was conditioned by something like that," Rozumek said in the interview.

According to Rozumek, it is important to involve the Refugee Facilities Administration more in finding housing for the Romani refugees from Ukraine. "In fact, the Refugee Facilities Administration has been operating all shelter facilities in the Czech Republic of a mass accommodation type for more than 25 years and is doing that job very well, so I believe the undignified situation at the Prague railway station actually has just one solution: Involve the Interior Ministry's Refugee Facilities Administration, have them just find the accommodation capacities - they have the staffers for such a thing, they have a budget, and I believe accommodation en masse for people whom actually nobody really wants should be provided by the Refugee Facilities Administration," Rozumek told public radio. 

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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