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Czech police and soldiers practice protecting borders in case migration wave rises

3.10.2015 22:47
Refugees from Africa. (PHOTO:  Vito Manzari, Wikimedia Commons)
Refugees from Africa. (PHOTO: Vito Manzari, Wikimedia Commons)

Czech Police officers and soldiers conducted joint exercises on 30 September at 06:45 CET to practice reinstating controls at the border with Austria. Czech Police President Tomáš Tuhý announced the exercises to the press shortly before they were about to begin.

Tuhý said the operations were not expected to restrict traffic. The maneuvers involved 500 police officers and 300 soldiers.  

The point of the exercises is to test border protections in case the incoming waves of migrants grow more numerous. The scenario imagined what would need to be done should the migrants change their main route to one leading through Czech territory.  

Police officers and soldiers were planning to test whether they are prepared for the reintroduction of controls right at the border crossings. "The training has one aim, to simulate a state of affairs in which the Government decides to reintroduce controls at the state borders," Tuhý said.

The Police President said the total closure of the borders would not be part of the exercise, nor would they train for a large number of refugees arriving on Czech territory. Police and soldiers would be deployed to four staging grounds near the borders to await instructions on how to behave during the reinstatement of controls.  

After receiving orders, they would move directly to the border crossings. Tuhý said people would know the exercise was underway because they would see large numbers of police officers and soldiers around the borders.  

The duration of the exercise would depend on how rapidly the police and soldiers could deploy. "We will end the exercise once we know that everyone is in place, that our communications work, and that we have assessed the risks involved," the Police President said.

"We are coordinating our activity so we can make matters clear and learn what still has to be synched up - the exercise is so that in the case of a rapid intervention, everything would work 100 %," said Czech Army Deputy Chief of Staff Petr Mikulenka. The entire exercise was directed by the Army Chief of Staff and the Police Presidium in Prague.    

The Austrian-Czech border is 464 km long and has 20 border crossings. Tuhý said officers and soliders would be deployed to all the border crossings during the day and that the exercise would also target the "green border" in the forest.

"We will cover all of the crossings on the border with Austria and do our best to secure the green border as well," Tuhý said. Since mid-June the Czech Police have increased their controls because of the migration crisis.  

More than 3 000 asylum-seekers have been detained since then for passing across Czech territory illegally. During the first eight months of this year migration inflows to the Czech Republic have risen by more than 109 %.  

Between January and August 2015 there were 6 092 foreign nationals detained on  Czech territory. That is 3 214 more than the same time period last year. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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