The Czech Republic will not accept 40 child refugees from camps in Greece,
says the country’s minister of the interior, Jan Hamáček. Speaking the
Prima TV station on Sunday, Mr. Hamáček said the Greek government had
refused to hand over a list of names of children, adding that he would not
bring 18-year-old Afghans into the country as they would represent a
security risk. The minister said that as far as he was concerned the matter
In September the Athens government called on all EU interior ministers to take in unaccompanied child refugees. Mr. Hamáček said that this had been an effort to revive a debate on sharing out refugees but that in his view it made no sense to move around 17-year-olds with no right to asylum.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has expressed the view that
taking in a certain number of unaccompanied child asylum seekers from Greek
refugee camps would not undermine the Czech Republic’s negative stance to
mandatory migrant quotas and its consistent position on the matter.
The minister said that, in his personal opinion, accepting 40 unaccompanied minors would not endanger the country’ security, given the fact that it had taken in over a thousand asylum seekers from the Balkans in the past.
However he said the ball was now in Athens’s court and if the Greek authorities produced a list of potential child refugees, it would be up to the Czech government to decide.
Both Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček have frowned on the idea, stressing that the Czech Republic prefers helping migrants in their country of origin.
The refugee support initiative Češi pomáhaji (Czechs help) has announced it has a list of around 200 Czech families who say they are willing to accept refugees currently stationed in Greek camps. At a press conference on Thursday they called on the Czech government to create a special interdepartmental group which would put the wheels in motion. However, the government says that its conditions have not yet been met by the Greek authorities.
Nowhere in the entire European Union was a person fleeing their homeland less likely to be granted safe harbour last year than in the Czech Republic. Fresh data from Eurostat show that in 2018 the Czech Ministry of Interior granted international protection to only 1 in 10 applicants – while not a single refugee was resettled here.
The Czech Republic absented itself from a meeting of UN representatives in
Marrakesh on Monday at which 164 states signed the Global Compact on
The Czech government announced earlier that it would withdraw from the pact citing ambiguities in its interpretation. Czech officials argue that the compact does not draw a clear line between legal and illegal migration or state that illegal migration is undesirable.
Around a dozen other countries including the US, Austria, Hungary and Poland have also refused to support the global compact.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says he will suggest to government that the Czech Republic doesn’t sign the UN’s Global Compact for Migration, citing ambiguities in its interpretation. The decision mirrors those concluded by the Czech Republic’s central European neighbours Austria and Hungary who have already announced they will not sign the agreement.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has criticized central European
member states for refusing to accept mandatory quotas agreed in 2015 to
take in refugees, and especially for rejecting his own proposal to at least
host unaccompanied refugee children without families.
Juncker said in an interview with the French daily Le Monde published over the weekend that their stance was "scandalous" and failed to demonstrate even "basic solidarity" with other EU states.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš last month refused to even consider taking in 50 orphans from Syria but has since softened his stance.
The Czech Interior Ministry has proposed sending 50 million crowns in aid
to Iraq, Mali, Nigeria and Chad as part of the country’s policy of
helping countries of migrant origin.
The money is to be used to improve the countries’ infrastructure, build houses for migrants who wish to return home, clean water facilities and health care.
The projects are to be overseen by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the NGO Caritas Internationalis.
The government is to debate the proposal at its regular session on Wednesday.
Having served as US secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, Madeleine Albright ranks as one of the most accomplished of all Czech-Americans. I got to speak to the Prague-born politician recently when she was special guest at the Reality Czech evening in New York, organised by the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association and the Václav Havel Library Foundation to mark the centenary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. Our conversation eventually turned to that landmark anniversary – but it began with Secretary Albright’s recently published book Fascism: