First contingent of Czech Ukrainians arrive in “homeland”
The first group of ethnic Czechs from eastern Ukraine, repatriated under a special government programme, has finally arrived in the Czech Republic, after nearly a year of negotiations. Another group is scheduled to arrive in the Czech capital by a special government plane in mid-March.
The first group of ethnic Czechs are part of a larger group of 145 people who were granted a residence permit in the Czech Republic as of 1 March. Although they organised their journey by themselves, it will be partly covered by the Czech state.
Tomáš Hajšman, the head of the Interior Ministry’s migration and asylum policy department, says these people had contacted the ministry independently in the course of 2014 asking for help:
“We first chose those who were most at risk, so these people come from Eastern Ukraine, from the Doneck, Luhansk, Mariupol and Czechohrad regions, where the situation is getting really dangerous.
“Anyone who was interested could apply, as long as we were able to trace their Czech origin. Of course, we didn’t want to separate family members, so the group consists mainly of larger families.”
“They will have the best position among foreigners living in the Czech Republic, which means they will have permanent residence, temporary accommodation of up to six months, and they will also receive assistance, including language courses, and help in finding permanent housing and employment.”
The ethnic Czechs will also receive help from the Archdiocese Caritas Prague, an official partner of the repatriation programme, who will be assisting them with the practical aspects of their integration into the Czech society. As Tomáš Hajšman points out, for most of them, the language-barrier will be a problem, since they lived abroad for a long time.
There are still about 70 requests from ethnic Czechs from other regions in Ukraine that are yet to be processed by the Ministry of Interior. Officials expect that most of the ethnic Czechs who move to the Czech Republic will settle in the country permanently.