Iraqi Christians who refused asylum offer from Czech Republic will remain in Germany to seek asylum there
The group of 25 Christian refugees from Iraq who left the Czech Republic this weekend for Germany will now be remaining there. Kateřina Rendlová, spokesperson for the Czech Police's immigration division, reported on the website of the Czech Police that those refugees have now sought asylum from Germany.
According to the original agreement between the neighboring countries reported yesterday, the Germans were to have handed the Iraqis over to the Czech Police this morning. Ultimately the German side revoked its request for the Czech Republic to take the foreign nationals back.
"The foreigners will continue to remain on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. That step has been justified by the German side with reference to the fact that all of the Iraqis have applied for asylum in Germany and asylum proceedings have begun in their cases. The Iraqis justified their applications for asylum there by claiming ties to family members in the Federal Republic of Germany," Rendlová said.
The group was originally accommodated at the Okrouhlík center in Jihlava, Czech Republic. They left that facility Friday and then crossed the border on Saturday.
Czech immigration authorities then said that after the Iraqis were returned by Germany they would be placed in a Czech detention facility. They would then be returned to their country of origin as quickly as possible.
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) later reported that the Iraqis were able to apply for asylum again. According to the original agreement, however, they were to have returned to the Czech Republic this morning.
German Police proposed the handover take place on the D8 highway near the village of Petrovice in the Ústí Region. "We rejected that for safety and other reasons. Then our German colleagues offered another location for the handover, which led to a bilateral agreement that it would happen at a different place, at the Hřensko border crossing," Rendlová said of this morning's negotiations.
Roughly one hour later, according to Rendlová, Czech Police officers were telephoned by their German counterparts with the information that the foreign nationals would not be returned to the Czech Republic. No reason was given for the change.
The Czech side therefore requested an official statement and written explanation. Two hours later an official announcement was delivered to the Czech Republic that Germany was revoking its request to hand over the foreign nationals on the basis of a readmission agreement.
The Iraqis would be remaining in Germany after all. "Because of that step, all activity undertaken by the Czech Police with respect to receiving those foreigners within the framework of a readmission proceedings has ended," Rendlová said.
Relocation of Iraqi Christians to the Czech Republic is being organized by the Generation 21 Foundation. So far 89 refugees have been relocated.
When this particular 25-member group left their accommodation in Jihlava on Friday, the Czech Interior Minister temporarily suspended the resettlement project. He will address the future of the project at the cabinet session Thursday.
The Iraqis had rejected an offer of asylum from the Czech Republic before leaving for Germany, where they were immediately arrested once they crossed the border along with the drivers of the charter bus that transported them. The drivers ultimately returned to the Czech Republic on their own on Sunday.
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