Prague to send millions to African states to help prevent migration to EU

Photo: ČTK/AP/Francisco Gentico

The Czech Republic looks set to send up to CZK 700 million to African states in the next few years. The main aim of the aid, which is being prepared by a number of ministries, is to help deter illegal migration to Europe.

Photo: ČTK/AP/Francisco Gentico

The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, has long rejected EU refugee quotas, insisting that the problem of migration needed to be dealt with beyond Europe’s borders.

Tomáš Petříček,  photo: Archive of Czech Foreign Ministry
Now his government is putting together a plan under which around CZK 700 million from the state coffers would be sent to African countries regarded as critical to stemming migration.

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček told Czech Radio he had secured some of that amount in budget talks with Alena Schillerová.

“The minister of finance has promised me CZK 100 million a year over a period of three years, starting in 2020. It is our contribution to dealing with the issue of migration in the areas where it arises, for instance in transit countries.”

The Czech diplomatic chief also outlined how the funding would be spent – and where.

“It actually involves a combination of humanitarian aid, stabilisation and a contribution to the socio-economic development of those countries, in order for us to limit migration pressures on Europe. We have identified three countries that should be a priority: Ethiopia, Mali and Morocco.”

Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are set to discuss the project with two other government departments that also will be funding it: defence and interior.

Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Tlapa said the scheme was based on experience gained during similar projects in the past.

Ondřej Horký-Hlucháň,  photo: Archive of Institute of International Relations
“The projects of Czech firms and non-governmental organisations to do with border protection, on the spot aid to refugees and developmental aid in African countries, the building of infrastructure – these projects have been inspired by what the Czech Republic’s government has already approved for Iraq and for the renewal of Syria; we are trying to bring together humanitarian projects, development projects and other ministries, so that we can contribute more together, in a coordinated manner.”

Analyst Ondřej Horký-Hlucháň from Prague’s Institute of International Relations says, however, that the Czech Republic is still not doing enough.

“On one hand, it is clear that the government is trying to sell what it has been saying from the start – on the spot aid, rather than accepting refugees – along with other states such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. But on the other hand, if we look at the Czech Republic’s total efforts to support global development, it is lagging behind. We are far from fulfilling our commitments.”

The total amount of aid provided to other states by the Czech Republic has increased in the last few years. However, with the economy doing well it now accounts for a smaller amount of GDP.