Moravian village unsettled by arrival of Iraqi refugees
Another group of Christian refugees from Iraq is set to arrive at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport on Friday. The families are part of a larger group whose relocation has been initiated and financed by the foundation Generace 21. This time, however, the refugees’ arrival has caused a wave of protests. Inhabitants of a small village in north Moravia where some of the families are to settle have launched a petition against them.
“We haven’t been asked by anyone if we agreed with the plan. I will be one of their closest neighbours in the village and I am afraid that they might not be true Christians.”
Another local inhabitant, Roman Jokiel, is also against the settlement of Iraqi refugees in the village:
“We don’t know who these people are. We don’t know anything about their culture and we don’t know how they behave. How do we know if they will really stay just for two months?”
They were selected in refugee camps in Erbil and all of them underwent security screenings required by the Czech authorities as well as interviews with people from the Czech Interior Ministry.
Lenka Waszutová, a spokeswoman for the non-profit organisation Slezská Diakonie, which is helping the refugees with settling down, told Czech Television that the reaction of the local people has taken them by surprise. She suggested it may be due to a lack of information:
“We are not going to change our plans, but we want to communicate more with the local people to dispel their worries. We hope that people will understand that no one who wants to hurt them or their relatives. In any case, police will be ready to assist if anything happens.”
The Generace 21 foundation plans to relocate altogether 153 people to the Czech Republic throughout this year.