Prague - Amnesty International and the Organization for Aid to Refugees, a Czech NGO, asked the Czech government in March to accept refugees from Syria.
In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, the two NGOs asked the Czech Republic to admit 1,000 Syrian refugees.
At the beginning of April, the interior minister responded that Prague would not accept these refugees, because they would use the Czech Republic only as a transit point to other European countries.
“We believe that the Czech society has the capacity to provide the protection of this extent. Moreover, it won't produce an excessive burden on refugee housing facilities or the asylum system,” the two NGOs wrote in their letter in March.
“The Interior Ministry still maintains that Syrian refugees do not and will not see the Czech Republic as an end destination,” responded the minister, adding that the Interior Ministry spent CZK 70 million (EUR 2.5 million) last year to support the asylum systems in the European countries most hit by the refugee inflow.
Data on illegal migration from the Czech immigration police shows that most Syrian refugees really use Prague only as a transit point to other European countries, mostly Germany or Scandinavian states. The number of asylum claims registered in the Czech Republic is in the tens.
The NGOs said they expected a different reaction from the ministry. “We are disappointed by the Interior Ministry's response. We hope that at least Prime Minister Sobotka, who promised to look into the situation, will face the situation head-on” said Martina Parizkova, the spokeswoman of the Czech division of Amnesty International.
According to UN data, almost 2.75 million people have fled Syria since its civil war started three years ago. Most of them live in refugee camps in Turkey or Lebanon.
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