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Tent city in Czech capital has not solved the situation of the Romani refugees from Ukraine, hundreds at main station, few with Hungarian passports

17.5.2022 9:49
Romani refugees from Ukraine at the main railway station in Prague, Czech Republic - May 2022 (PHOTO: Lukáš Cirok)
Romani refugees from Ukraine at the main railway station in Prague, Czech Republic - May 2022 (PHOTO: Lukáš Cirok)

The situation at the main train station in Prague, where hundreds of people remain even after the opening of a "tent city" in the Troja neighborhood for refugees from Ukraine, most of whom are Romani, can only be resolved systematically, not overnight, according to Vice Prime Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN). He told the Czech News Agency (ČTK) yesterday that the way to stop the main motivation for such refugees arriving in the country would be to change the disbursal of benefits for refugees from money to the equivalent in goods or services.

Currently, the monetary aid given to refugees from Ukraine is CZK 5 000 (EUR 200). According to the minister, the Government could discuss the change tomorrow.

Among other measures, the Vice PM, who heads the Crisis Team, mentioned negotiations with Hungary and Ukraine to aid by stopping the influx of people from those states into the Czech Republic. "Both [negotiations] are underway. We are also working on finding more accommodation capacities or installing more tents. Also on offering transport to Hungary for those with dual citizenship. All that is in process, there is not a simple solution from one day to the next," he wrote to ČTK.

Although politicians are speaking of "many" Romani refugees with dual citizenship, Hungarian and Ukrainian, the authorities continue not to communicate specific numbers. News server Romea.cz has been contacting the authorities for the number of refugees with Hungarian passports since last week, so far unsuccessfully.

According to information communicated to Romea.cz by individuals working directly with refugees and nonprofit organizations, the number of dual citizens is negligible. Hungary is said to have communicated that most of those vetted by the Czech authorities are not their citizens.

According to Geti Mubeenová of the Organization for Aid to Refugees (OPU), who is assisting refugees at the main train station in Prague, currently just a few of the refugees there are dual citizens. According to the organizations working at the train station, hundreds of refugees remain there even after the "tent city" opened over the weekend, refugees who frequently have been told they are not eligible for temporary protection or with whom the proceedings have not yet begun. 

The accommodation in the "tent city" is allocated to refugees from Ukraine who are waiting for their identities to be verified. They should live in the Troja facility until it is decided whether they are eligible for temporary protection visas. 

Currently there are 142 such refugees there, 101 of whom are children, according to the minister. Among the refugees who are returning to the main train station are, according to Mubeenová of OPU, people with whom no visa proceeding has begun because they either lack documents altogether or lack a stamp in their passports confirming their entry into the Schengen Zone. 

There are also refugees from Ukraine at the main train station who had originally planned to travel to other countries and have returned from those countries, or who have left the accommodation offered them by the Czech state. There are no legal or social services being offered there to aid the refugees who have ended up in a kind of legal vacuum with resolving their situations.

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



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