Country to open new facilities and hire hundreds of additional personnel to handle influx of illegal migrants

Refugiados Sirios, foto: DFID - UK Department for International Development, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Czech Interior Ministry said on Monday it expects up to 7,000 illegal migrants to try and enter the country next year - double the amount who entered the Czech Republic so far in 2015. For that reason, ministers in the government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka agreed the Interior will now get almost a quarter billion crowns solely focusing on the migration problem.

Illustrative photo: DFID - UK Department for International Development, CC BY-SA 2.0
Between 5,000 and 7,000 illegal migrants are expected to enter the Czech Republic next year, an estimate that has prompted the country to act. Already in June, in the face of the growing migrant numbers, security checks were stepped up along rail routes and major throughways. The country is now moving to provide new shelter and support for refugees, preparing to open facilities in Vyšní Lhoty, Moravia as well as Balková in the region of Plzeň, while broadening an existing centre in Bělá pod Bezdězem. That will increase the number of available beds by 550. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka outlined the situation on Monday:

“Over the last few weeks we have seen a rise in the number of migrants having crossed the border illegally. I am certain that the capacities of the police and members of the state administration need to be intensified so that the country successfully tackles the problem.”

New facilities, as well as an increase in employees including police officers and other officials will also come at a cost, leading the Interior Ministry to ask for additional funds now as well as a rise of more than 1.1 billion in its budget next year. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec:

Milan Chovanec, photo: Filip Jandourek
“We need new interior ministry employees to process cases, whereby migrants either end up being granted refugee status or are deported. We also need to increase the number of police and others in the field as well as employees of refugee centres - as we promised municipalities.”

For his part, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš made clear he understands the need for funds to be set aside. He also made clear he was aware of the potential scope of the problem, calling migration the greatest issue now faced by Europe. He said he had been informed that some 600 or more new interior ministry employees were needed and said that extra funds were available to cover their salaries.

Meanwhile on Monday, President Miloš Zeman at the ceremonial unveiling of a bust of late French president Francois Mitterand also waded into the migration debate. He made no secret he empathized, for example, with Ukrainian migrants, who he called culturally close and hard-working but he took the opportunity to reiterate what has become his characteristic view on broader migration from Muslim countries:

Miloš Zeman, photo: Filip Jandourek
“I will never agree with a wave of Islamist migrants coming over which could also include supporters of jihad.”

As it stands, the Czech Republic has agreed to voluntarily accept 1,500 refugees, many of whom crossed the Mediterranean to arrive in Greece and Italy. Others, Czech Radio reported, will come from refugee camps operating in parts of Jordan, Syria and Kurdistan.