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Czech Republic to offer refugees from Ukraine who hold Hungarian passports transport by train to Hungary, but isn't saying how many people this concerns

13.5.2022 6:47
Vít Rakušan (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)
Vít Rakušan (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN) says that in a telephone call with Hungarian Interior Minister Sándor Pintér yesterday, he drew his counterpart's attention to the fact that the Czech authorities will be offering Hungarian passport holders who are refugees from Ukraine train transport to Hungary, and he asked the Hungarian side to confirm the citizenship of the refugees through a quick, thorough process. Rakušan informed reporters at the Czech Chamber of Deputies of the news. 

The minister also said that in the newly-built "tent city" in Prague-Troja, refugees from Ukraine can be accommodated for a maximum of 30 days, which is also the turnaround time for such vetting. The minister has previously said several times that Romani refugees from Ukraine frequently have dual citizenship and, as citizens of Hungary, are not entitled to aid in the Czech Republic. 

Rakušan claimed to have pointed out to Pintér that some such refugees are still waiting to be vetted in the Czech Republic, for example, those who have been sleeping at the main train station in the Czech capital, Prague. "I asked the Hungarian side for a quick, thorough vetting that takes place in a matter of days so the Czech side can be informed as to whether or not the person has a Hungarian passport," he said. 

"I pointed out that in such cases we will also offer those who have Hungarian passports transport by train to Hungary," the minister told reporters. Accelerating and streamlining the process should soon be the topic of negotiations between Czech Police President Martin Vondrášek and the director of the Aliens Police in Hungary, according to the Czech Interior Minister. 

How many refugees have a Hungarian passport? The authorities play "hot potato" with Romea.cz

News server Romea.cz has tried to find out how many refugees from Ukraine this problem concerns. The Interior Ministry referred us to the Aliens Police, but they stated that they are not entitled to issue such information and again referred us back to the ministry, namely, its Asylum and Migration Policy Department.

"I checked once more who is entitled to publish the data that you require, and it has actually been confirmed to me that it is the Asylum and Migration Policy Department of the Interior Ministry," Renata Grecmanová, a spokesperson for the Aliens Police, told Romea.cz. Although we have been trying to get an answer to this question since 11 May and the Interior Minister has been discussing this problem for several days, it is not clear what number of refugees are being vetted for this dual citizenship problem.

"Tent city" to begin operations soon

The first refugees from Ukraine could start to move into the "tent city" in Prague-Troja no later than today; Nikola Taragoš, director of the Romodrom organization, which will participate in the operations, informed the Czech News Agency of the timeline. The Interior Minister considers it especially important to accommodate children and mothers in the "tent city". 

Negotiations are underway between City Hall and the ministry to identify more temporary accommodation in actual buildings so as to increase capacities. "However, in many cases, these people are automatically returning to the main train station on their own because people close to them from some community are still there," the minister said. 

According to him, there is no simple solution to this problem, but it is possible to make use of some instruments to ensure people who are not entitled to aid in the Czech Republic do not make it into the country. He mentioned  checking that passports have a stamp indicating the traveler exited Ukraine, diplomatic negotiations, rapid screening for dual citizenship, and tightening humanitarian benefits.

Regarding the first humanitarian benefit given to refugees after their arrival in the Czech Republic, the Interior Ministry and the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry are creating a system whereby the benefit for people who are being accommodated en masse (for example, in the "tent city") would not be issued in cash, but would be replaced by the fact that all of their food and security will be paid for by the Czech state. According to the Interior Minister, the benefits issued after that would have to be bound to a clearly proven stay in the Czech Republic.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Immigration, Interior Ministry, Prague, refugee



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