Resettlement programme scrapped after refugees 'Czech-out'

Resettlement programme scrapped after refugees 'Czech-out'
2 min read
08 April, 2016
Twenty five Iraqi Christian refugees have formally rejected their asylum in the Czech Republic and left to Germany, prompting the government to scrap its resettlement programme.
Some refugees left for Germany while others returned to Iraq [AFP]

The Czech government on Thursday abandoned a programme to resettle Iraqi Christians after some refugees left for Germany and others decided to return home.

Out of the 89 Iraqi Christians brought to the Czech Republic through the programme, 25 formally refused asylum in the European Union member state and hired a bus to Germany last Friday.

Another eight refugees were due to return to Iraq on Thursday.

"Based on my proposal, the government has dropped its project to resettle 153 Iraqis to the Czech Republic," Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said on Twitter.

"It's impossible to support a project which doesn't meet its goals," he said, adding that the Czech Republic could not be "mistaken for a travel agency".

Under the programme, the government was planning to accept 130 Iraqi Christian refugees from Iraq's Kurdistan region and 23 others from Lebanon.

Some of the Iraqis were reportedly unhappy with their resettlement in the Czech Republic, despite being grateful to the host country.

A refugee resettled in the town of Jihlava, about 130km from Prague, complained to a Czech television reporter about the accommodation they were offered.

Martin Frydl of Generation 21, a charity that cooperated with the government on the project said the refugees were asked about the changes they would like to see "but we were unable to get concrete facts."

"They said they were glad that the Czech Republic had welcomed them like this, but they could not live here."

One possible reason for why some refugees felt they could not stay in the Czech Republic might be the president's strong anti-refugee stance, especially against Muslims.

In January, Czech President Milos Zeman suggested that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood had masterminded the refugee influx into Europe to control the continent.

He has also said that the culture brought by the refugees is incompatible with European culture. Iraqi Christians are culturally similar to their Muslim counterparts.

The country is also not seen to be as welcoming to refugees as other western European states, and was last year criticised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for its detention and treatment of refugees.

The ill treatment included stripping refugees naked to retrieve cash to pay for their involuntary detention.