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Czech Republic postpones reception of Syrian children, rejects EU summit on migration

23.6.2015 16:18
The situation in Syria today is especially dramatic, where 6.5 million people are fleeing the civil war and another 2.5 million have already left the country. (Photo:  Facebook page of Help Syrian Refugees, 2014)
The situation in Syria today is especially dramatic, where 6.5 million people are fleeing the civil war and another 2.5 million have already left the country. (Photo: Facebook page of Help Syrian Refugees, 2014)

The daily Právo reported yesterday that the Czech Interior Ministry has suspended preparations to relocate 14 Syrian children and their families, roughly 70 persons total, from Jordan to the Czech Republic. The children were supposed to be treated for serious diseases.  

The paper reports that Motol Hospital in Prague said it could not receive the patients selected because of their states of health. Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec sent the following report to his Government colleagues:  "Given the profile of the children's illnesses, it is not possible to treat them in the Czech Republic, either because of the extreme ambitiousness of their treatment (and the high financial costs of such treatment) or because of the high degree of probability that such treatment will fail."  

Physicians, collaborating with Czech Interior Ministry Staff, should now choose different child patients from Syria for transport to the country. The Czech Government decided to receive Syrian children with illnesses in January and presumed the children and their families would be in the Czech Republic by this time of year.

Now it is evident they will not receive treatment in the Czech Republic before autumn. The reception of the Syrian children has been presented by the Government as a gesture of solidarity in addressing the current refugee crisis.  

Domestic politicians have been repeatedly emphasizing that the Czech Republic cannot afford to receive a larger number of refugees, rejecting quotas for the redistribution of refugees within the EU and stressing that the situation must be addressed in the places from which such migrants head to Europe. Today Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (Czech Social Democratic Party) rejected the most recent proposed conclusions of the EU summit on migration.

The Czech Republic continues to insist that refugee reception on the part of the Member States must be voluntary. Zaorálek made his remarks to the press after the meeting of Member State ministers responsible for the EU issue in Luxembourg today.

The Czech Foreign Minister said other countries besides the Czech Republic were also against the draft conclusions. He named the Baltic states, Portugal, Spain and the other Visegrad Four countries.

"I rejected the fourth paragraph today on obligations and I reiterated that the text did not correspond with what was adopted in April," Zaorálek said. The April EU summit concluded that refugee reception is a voluntary matter.

"I supported the idea that we must protect our external borders and build up return mechanisms. Those are the elements that are essential for us," said the Czech Foreign Minister.

A definitive solution, in Zaorálek's view, now depends on EU leaders who will meet in Brussels later this week. The Czech News Agency reports that the proposed conclusions for the summit on migration counted on postponing a decision on the redistribution of refugees until the end of July.  

The document, produced for a meeting of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the EU countries, does not once mention a mandatory distribution system according to quotas, as the European Commission proposed in May. The text of the point on this issue refers to the conclusions of the extraordinary summit on migration from April.  

At that time the leaders of the EU-28 announced their aim to launch a pilot project of voluntary relocation within the EU. The Commission came forward several weeks later with a proposal for the mandatory redistribution of 40 000 Eritreans and Syrians.

Such people are fleeing countries for which the probability is high that they are entitled to seek refuge in the EU. Czech diplomats believe the Commission's proposals ignores the conclusions of the April summit and could have very negative political consequences in many Member States if adopted.   

ČTK, mik, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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EU, Migrace, refugee, Sýrie



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