Czechia struggles to accommodate growing number of refugees

Photo: Patrik Uhlíř, ČTK

According to official data, the Czech Interior Ministry has already issued more than 150,000 special visas to Ukrainian refugees since Russia invaded the country almost three weeks ago.

However, the total number of refugees arriving in the Czech Republic is estimated to be much higher, probably exceeding 220,000. In some places, such as Prague or Brno, standard accommodation has already reached its limit, says Interior Minister Vít Rakusan:

“In recent days we have seen that Prague, Central Bohemia and South Moravia have clearly exhausted their capacity.

Vit Rakušan |  Photo: Czech Government Office

“We conveyed this information to the Ambassador of Ukraine and asked him to send a clear message to the Ukrainian community that the Czech Republic will soon become more of a transit country.

“It means a country that might be able to provide temporary accommodation, but certainly not suitable accommodation for mothers with children. Ukrainians should be advised to arrange or seek accommodation in other countries.

Speaking after a meeting of the central crisis unit on Monday, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan also said that in view of the growing number of refugees, the government will have to adopt new measures to deal with to the situation. One of them will be a stricter redistribution of refugees in all regions of the country.

Ukrainian girl in Czech school |  Photo: Václav Plecháček, Czech Radio

“While I understand it may be unpleasant, the mechanism for relocation to individual regions will have to be much stricter in the coming weeks.

“Some form of fixed placement of refugees in individual regions will be needed, as some regions simply cannot cope with the current situation any longer.”

According to Rakušan, the criteria for the redistribution of refugees will be based on the number of inhabitants in a given region as well as its level of economic prosperity or the availability of kindergartens and schools.

The Interior Ministry also plans to increase the amount it spends on accommodating refugees in hotels and other accommodation facilities, Rakušan says:

Ukrainian refugees in the Czech Republic |  Photo: City of Vsetín

“According to my estimates, it could be around 250 CZK. According to our agreement, two thirds of this sum will be paid by the State and one third by the regions themselves. So the total amount could actually exceed 300 CZK.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is preparing a proposal regarding the amount to be spent on housing Ukrainian refugees in private households.

The Home Office also plans to introduce a new government regulation that will require all state institutions to release vacant accommodation capacity, for example in schools or leisure facilities.

Berta D. Wells