Group of Syrian refugees, whose children will receive medical attention, to arrive in Prague

Illustrative photo: CTK

The first group of Syrian refugees granted asylum in the Czech Republic will arrive in Prague on Monday. According to Czech Radio’s flagship Radiožurnál, as many as 70 were expected on a special flight but only three families, numbering 16 people, will arrive. The government opted to use the Medevac programme as the families’ children are to be treated in Czech hospitals.

Illustrative photo: CTK
For Syrian refugees granted asylum arriving on Monday the Czech Republic represents not a transition country but desired destination and place to begin anew. A reporter from Czech Radio’s flagship news station spoke to one of the families in Amman, Jordan, ahead of their flight, asking members about their hopes after leaving war-torn Syria. Ali, 34-years-old, used to run an electronics store in the town of Daraa. He and his wife and three daughters left with only the most essential belongings, their family home and shop lost or destroyed.

Ali told Czech Radio that he was happy now that he and his loved ones would have a chance at a new start and that his kids would get medical attention they need. His oldest daughter suffered extensive burns on her body and will now be able to undergo plastic surgery. Here is how Ali described his feelings ahead of the flight:

“We fled from the bombardment. First I brought my wife and children to Jordan; then I had return for two months before I left for good… I am happy: happy that my children will receive medical care and that we will all start new lives in a safe environment. We just want to live normally. Without shelling and bombardment and to go to work, to take the kids to school – just like anyone else.”

Ali told Czech Radio, he had also had a chance to read up on the Czech Republic, admitting he had a slight apprehension about cold winters. Other than that, he made clear he was optimistic. Two other families are also on the Medevac programme flight, even though it originally appeared there would be many more granted asylum. The Czech ambassador to Jordan Petr Hladík explained:

War in Syria,  photo: archive of Voice of America / Public Domain
“Originally we expected a group of 70 people on the first flight, up to 15 families. Unfortunately, the final number of people dropped to 16. One of the factors was that we were looking for families with one or two children who would need medical attention in the Czech Republic.”

Others interested in being part of the first group either did not fulfil that criteria or failed to meet security requirements. Still others, who had been accepted, Czech Radio said, changed their minds at the last moment for personal reasons.