Czechia struggling to accommodate growing number of refugees

Ukrainian refugees in Czechia

As the influx of refugees from Ukraine to the Czech Republic continues, accommodation capacities is some parts of the country have already been exhausted. In reaction to the situation, the Czech interior minister announced a plan for a stricter redistribution of refugees across all of the country’s regions.

Photo: Patrik Uhlíř,  ČTK

According to official data, the Czech Ministry of Interior has already handed over 150,000 special visas to Ukrainian refugees since Russia’s invasion of the country almost three weeks ago.

However, the total number of refugees arriving in the Czech Republic are estimated to be much higher, likely exceeding 220,000. In some places, like Prague or Brno, standard accommodation facilities have already reached their limit, says Interior Minister Vít Rakušan:

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

Vít Rakušan | Photo: Office of Czech Government

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

“That means a country that might be able to provide temporary accommodation, but certainly not suitable accommodation for mothers with children. People from Ukraine should be advised to arrange or look for accommodation in other countries.”

Speaking after a meeting of the Central Crisis Staff 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 tackle the situation. One of them will be a stricter redistribution of refugees across all of the country’s regions.

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

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

“Some form of fixed placing of refugees in individual regions will be necessary, because some regions simply cannot deal with the current situation any longer.”

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

The Ministry of Interior also plans to increase the amount it spends to accommodate refugees in hotels and other lodging facilities, says Mr. Rakušan:

Ukrainian refugees in Czechia | Photo: City of Vsetín

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

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is preparing a proposal for the amount of money to be spent on housing Ukrainian refugees in private households.

The Ministry of Interior is also planning to introduce a new government regulation that will demand all state institutions to release their vacant accommodation capacities, for example in schools or recreational facilities.

Author: Ruth Fraňková
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