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Prague Mayor tells Czech Govt that if refugees are not redistributed elsewhere in the country by Tuesday, he will close the assistance center

13.5.2022 9:03
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The "tent city" for Romani refugees from Ukraine in Prague's Troja neighborhood. (May 2022) (PHOTO: Fire Rescue Service Prague)

Refugees from Ukraine will not move into the "tent city" in Prague-Troja until the weekend. The facility is not yet ready. 

Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) informed reporters of that fact yesterday after the Prague Crisis Staff meeting. The tents are supposed to lighten the burden on the capital's overloaded main train station, where, according to civic initiatives, hundreds of refugees, mostly of Romani origin, have been living in undignified conditions.

"The tent city still needs to be equipped. All of the processes related to supplies have to be secured. It is necessary to arrange for people to participate in the operations," said the mayor.

On the plot of land between the Městský okruh and Povltavská Street, firefighters installed 10 tents Wednesday evening. The facility has beds for 150 people, a dining room, showers and toilets. 

According to the Mayor of Prague, City Hall, the Refugee Facilities Administration, and nonprofit organizations such as Romodrom will participate in the operation of the "tent city". He also said Prague's specific contribution to its operations has yet to be established. 

The facility should serve as a waystation for people waiting for their dual Hungarian/Ukrainian citizenship to be vetted, according to the mayor. According to the Czech authorities, dual citizens of an EU Member State will never be eligible for refugee temporary protection in the Czech Republic.

Refugees with a Hungarian passport, according to yesterday's statement by Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN), will then be offered transportation by train to Hungary, paid for by the Czechs. The minister also added that people will be accommodated in the "tent city" for 30 days at the most. 

The refugees are able to access the "tent city" just through the Regional Assistance Center for Aid to Ukraine - in other words, it will not be possible for them access it on their own as individuals, City Hall spokesperson Vít Hofman told the Czech News Agency yesterday. The facility will be closed overnight and guarded by both municipal and state police, he added. 

After being called upon to do so by the Interior Ministry along with other Regional Authorities in the Czech Republic, the City of Prague is identifying other buildings for accommodating refugees from Ukraine. "We are negotiating with accommodation providers who would be willing to offer accommodation," the mayor said.  

At the same time, the mayor called for the creation of a statewide mechanism to redistribute refugees from Russia's war on Ukraine among the different regions of the Czech Republic. According to him, there are currently four times more refugees from Ukraine in Prague per 1 000 inhabitants than there are in other regions. 

Hřib also said that if the Government does not begin work on creating such a system by Tuesday, Prague will close its Regional Assistance Center for Aid to Ukraine (KACPU) in the Vysočany quarter. That center serves both the Central Bohemian Region and the metropolis itself, and ever since Russia's invasion at the close of February it has registered more than 84 000 refugees.   

The mayor also sent a letter to Czech PM Petr Fiala (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) several days ago calling for a solution to be found to the refugee crisis. In his view, the state has enough information about how many refugees there are, how many accommodation places are available, how many jobs are available and how much opportunity for medical care there is in each region.

"The data model presented to the Regional Governors confirmed Prague is the only city at the third level heading for the fourth level of saturation. That means I actually need Prime Minister Fiala to begin addressing this crisis, which is so unprecedented," Hřib said.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Immigration, Prague, Racism, refugee



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