Czech police intensify checks on illegal migrants

Photo: CTK

Illegal migrants have made headlines in Czech media in the past few days, after the Foreign Police stepped up controls on international trains and roads in the border areas in response to the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. Some 60 migrants, mainly from Afghanistan and Syria, have been detained during the last week, which is around twice as many as usual.

Photo: CTK
Since last Thursday, when Interior Minister Milan Chovanec announced that measures were being taken to curb the flow of migrants through the Czech Republic, the Foreign Police has detained some 52 illegal migrants.

Thirteen people from Syria, Afghanistan and Gambia were detained on Friday afternoon during a police raid at Prague’s Main Train Station. Another 12 migrants, including a pregnant woman and two children, were found during a search of night trains when they stopped at the Moravian town of Břeclav. Police are now trying to find out if they applied for asylum before reaching the Czech Republic.

Kateřina Rendlová is a spokeswoman for the Czech Foreign Police:

“The trend in the number of illegal migrants has been pretty much the same over the past days, weeks and months. The Foreign Police detains on average 30 refugees a week in the Czech Republic. The numbers did go up slightly over the past few days, but I definitely wouldn’t call it a trend.”

Magda Faltová,  photo: Czech Television
Magda Faltová of the Association for Integration and Migration NGO does not think the situation in the Czech Republic has changed dramatically over the past few weeks.

“I don’t really think the numbers are that high. We are talking about thirty people over the course of few days. It’s not that we are flooded by refugees as it is sometimes pictured by the media. These are really just individuals passing through.

“I think that the reason why the numbers of refugees have increased is because the controls have increased, not that the flow has changed dramatically. If you have more controls, there is a bigger chance to find an asylum seeker coming from Italy to Germany.”

Although the future development is hard to predict, Magda Faltová says that unless the Czech Republic gives a clear signal that refugees are welcome to stay, it is likely to remain largely a transit country for most of them.

Photo: CTK
Meanwhile, the Czech government has repeatedly rejected quotas on refugees proposed by the European Commission, saying that the decision should be solely up to individual EU member states.

Despite the Czech Republic not being likely to expect a wave of refugees, fears and anti-immigrant sentiment among the population seem to have been mounting. Just this weekend, around sixty Czechs, mostly football hooligans, were detained after violence broke out following a demonstration against immigrants and Islamism in Bratislava.