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Romani Ukrainian refugees leave Czech Republic for Germany, say local teenagers assaulted their children with glass bottles and accommodation manager attacked a little boy

23.3.2022 17:14
Some of the Romani Ukrainian refugees who left the Czech Republic on 21 March 2022 for Germany. (PHOTO:  Emil Voráč)
Some of the Romani Ukrainian refugees who left the Czech Republic on 21 March 2022 for Germany. (PHOTO: Emil Voráč)

Some of the Romani refugees from Ukraine who have fled Russia's aggression and made it to the Czech Republic, where they were accommodated in the village of Božičany in the Karlovy Vary Region, have now moved on to Munich, Germany. Other Romani Ukrainian refugees are preparing to leave the Czech Republic for good as well.  

The refugees who are now heading to Germany say they were subjected to both physical and verbal assaults by the manager of the accommodation facility in the Czech village. Everything came to a head when local adolescents from the village reportedly threw glass bottles at the Romani refugee children, injuring a 15-year-old girl. 

The facility manager rejects the allegations made by representatives of nonprofit organizations and the Romani Ukrainian refugees. Police have yet to respond to news server Romea.cz's inquiries about the allegations.

Romani Ukrainian woman:  Adolescents threw glass bottles at our children and harmed a 15-year-old girl

One of the Romani Ukrainian women who left the Czech Republic for Munich, Germany with others on Monday testified that the manager what used to be a pension in Božičany assaulted them both physically and verbally. She said the manager had attacked a seven-year-old refugee boy, grabbing him around the neck.  

The manager rejects the allegations. "The building manager behaved in a vulgar way toward us, he insulted both the children and the women, including senior citizens. He used words like Mama Whore or 'up yours'. He even firmly grabbed one seven-year-old boy around the neck. The boy's mother stood up for him, but the manager tried to catch hold of her too," 31-year-old Natasha, a Romani refugee from Ukraine, told news server Romea.cz. 

Natasha also described the manager assaulting an older woman because he disliked the fact that the woman had brought a chair and table from the pension outside so she could sit in the fresh air. According to an eyewitness, the manager also grabbed the older woman around the neck as well. 

"We left for Germany because we feared for our children. We had problems with the locals, they were bothered by the fact that Romani people from nonprofit organizations were driving there to aid us. Some adolescents threw glass bottles at our children. They hit a 15-year-old girl, but fortunately nothing much happened to her, she just has a bump from that unpleasant experience," a Romani Ukrainain woman told Romea.cz.

Voráč: The Roma are going to a country that is kinder

The incidents between the manager and the Romani Ukrainian refugees have been confirmed by Emil Voráč of the Khamoro organization, which has been aiding Romani Ukrainian refugees in Božičany under the direction of the Romodrom organization, which is taking care of both non-Romani and Romani refugees to a great extent in more than one region of the Czech Republic. "On Friday we brought seven Romani refugees to the Karlovy Vary train station so they could continue on their way to a country that will be kinder to them. On Monday as many as 20 of them left, including Ms Natasha," Voráč told Romea.cz.

"There were 50 people accommodated at the pension and from the very beginning they encountered prejudices from the management. During the two weeks the refugees were living there I did not see anything about them that would indicate they were a group of problematic people who didn't know how to maintain order. However, given that they were women with children, some people seem to have interpreted the situation as meaning they could treat them with scorn and physically assault them," Voráč told Romea.cz.   

Voráč said he has attempted to communicate with the manager about his inappropriate behavior toward the war refugees. "I have not met him in person, but I spoke with him by phone and did my best to calm the situation and resolve it. Unfortunately, the entire situation escalated to such a degree that more than 30 Romani people have moved on to another country, and Romani people still left at the pension for the time being want to move to different accommodation here. We are sorry about the entire situation and we cannot agree with such conduct," Voráč said, pointing out that the Czech Police also visited the facility more than once; they have yet to answer questions sent to them by news server Romea.cz. 

Building manager: I never grabbed any child by the neck, I just grabbed his shoulder

The building manager, who did not want to give his name to news server Romea.cz, rejects the accusations. "That is not true, I didn't grab any child by the neck, all I did was grab one little boy by the shoulder and explain to him that he shouldn't break things and how he should use them. I never used vulgar abuse against any ladies, I spoke in a very loud voice to them, there were a lot of them, it wasn't possible to shout over them," the manager told Romea.cz, calling the accusations mere gossip.

"I explained to the gentleman [Emil Voráč] that I use the word 'kurva' [whore] when I am angry. You know how we guys are?" he asked rhetorically, adding that the Romani Ukrainians had been supplied with shampoo, towels, and given good care. 

After the reporter for Romea.cz noted to him that humanitarian aid for the Romani Ukrainian refugees had been repeatedly brought to the pension by staffers from the nonprofit organizations Identity Prague and Khamoro, the manager admitted that he knew that, but alleged they had done so "behind his back". The manager also alleged that police visited the pension because the Romani Ukrainian refugees were arguing among themselves. 

"On Saturday afternoon the police were here because some boy was beating up his Mom and his aunt," the manager said. Voráč says that problematic situation involved a verbal exchange between a mother and her 15-year-old son.  

The boy reportedly wanted to return to Ukraine to be with his friends, but his mother and other family members dissuaded him from such a decision. "There was certainly no physical assault, just an exchange of opinions," Voráč insisted, adding that the Romodrom organization has filed a complaint about the pension with the local police. 

Romea.cz has previously reported that some Romani Ukrainian refugees, unlike non-Romani Ukrainian refugees, are grappling with discrimination and prejudices as they flee Russian-occupied Ukraine, not just at border crossings, but in the countries providing refugees with accommodation and other support. Such practices were described to Romea.cz by Jaroslav Miko, a volunteer with the Czechs Are Helping initiative, which coordinates the transfer of Romani refugees into the Czech Repblic.  

Antonie Rašilovová, a student in the Department of Dramatic Theatre at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, had a similar experience when, shortly after Russia began its war against the democratic, sovereign country of Ukraine, she joined an initiative called Students for Ukraine. She and her friends brought two Romani Ukrainian refugee families to the Czech Republic.  

Those families were then evicted from two different Czech accommodation facilities for no reason. The country has so far issued almost 218 000 visas to people affected by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

According to statements made Tuesday by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (Civic Democratic Party - ODS), about 300 000 refugees have arrived in the Czech Republic so far since the beginning of Russia's 2022 invasion. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees at the United Nations, 3.6 million people have fled abroad since the beginning of the 2022 invasion less than a month ago.

Rena Horvátová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

assault, Migrace, Racism, refugee, Ukraine



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