Govt. approves more help for Ukrainians and calls for continued solidarity

Ukrainian refugees in Przemysl, Poland

The Czech government has just rubberstamped a raft of measures aimed at helping the thousands upon thousands of Ukrainian refugees who are arriving in the country. At the same time, the country’s leaders have called for continued solidarity with the new arrivals – and unity in the face of Russian aggression.  

On Wednesday the Czech Republic’s leaders laid out a raft of new measures intended to help the tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees who have been arriving since Russia invaded their country a fortnight ago.

But first the prime minister, Petr Fiala, told the nation that the EU and Czech Republic were the target of an economic war launched by Vladimir Putin – which must be combatted by continued solidarity as Czechs begin feeling the impact in their own pockets.

Petr Fiala | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“We don’t want to take and we will not take the steps advocated by populists and extremists who are doing their best to divide the united society, to turn our citizens against refugees and to offer solutions that aren’t solutions at all. If we are divided and if unrest prevails, that will go against the interests of the Czech Republic and serve those of Putin’s Russia.”

Among the concrete measures aimed at helping Ukrainian refugees is an extension of the time period before they must register with local migration police; it has been increased from three to 30 days.

The Czech government has also joined an EU-wide system aimed at making life easier for refugees, the minister of the interior, Vít Rakušan, told reporters.

“We have approved the activation of what is called the Temporary Protection Directive for Ukrainians in our country. It basically doesn’t change anything in the legislation we have already introduced. But it applies to the entire EU. Whoever receives temporary protection, which will be in place for one year, has the same access to work and health care in all EU states.”

With regard to work, the Czech minister of labour and social affairs, Marian Jurečka, announced a new bill that should soon be rubberstamped by MPs in a fast-track procedure.

Marian Jurečka | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“We are making it possible for those who arrive as war refugees from Ukraine to enter our labour market as soon as they receive a visa – without any further complications, and without any further red tape. They will have the same open conditions as other citizens. This is important so that they can work legally, so they can provide for themselves and their families and also be part of our tax system.”

In addition the government has approved humanitarian allowances of CZK 5,000 to each Ukrainian arrival.

Interior Minister Rakušan said a couple of days ago that the Czech Republic would be able to properly look after around a quarter of a million refugees.

On Thursday he said that data from mobile phone operators indicated that almost 200,000 were already in the country.