Athens, Greece - April 16, 2016: young friends in a camp for Syrian refugees

200 Czech families volunteer to take in children from Greek refugee camps

Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) – The Češi pomáhají (Czechs Helping) group has a list of some 200 Czech families who are ready to accept children from Greek refugee camps and it has called on the Czech government to enable this and set up an inter-ministerial group that would propose how to proceed, its head Jaroslav Miko said today.

In September, Greece turned to the Czech Republic and other EU member countries asking them to accept abandoned children from its refugee camps.

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Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said Greece is trying to reopen the debate on the redistribution of refugees. He said moving teenagers without the right to asylum around Europe seemed pointless to him.

Last week, Hamacek called on Greece to provide a list of 40 children who stay unaccompanied by adults in its refugee camps and whom Czechia may potentially accept. He said he sent a similar request to Athens in November 2018 already but received no answer.

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Miko said today Hamacek only asked for a list of Syrian children last year and Greece refused to select the children in need according to their nationality.

“This situation is repeated. The minister again asked for a list of Syrian children. The Greek party again declared that children cannot be separated based on nationality,” Miko said.

Hamacek said today the issue certainly does not concern Syrian orphans aged under ten years. The typical child is a boy over 15 from Afghanistan or Pakistan and a possible integration of such children into Czech society is very complicated, he said.

He said he can see no reason to accept Pakistani refugees since the European Union signed a readmission agreement with Pakistan. Greece should have reacted immediately by returning them to Pakistan, Hamacek added.

The group Češi pomáhají (Czechs Helping), together with the Doctors without Borders (MSF), Amnesty International (AI) and the Organization for Aid to Refugees (OPU), has called on the government not to impede the manifestation of solidarity and form a group that would propose an exact procedure of how to accept the unaccompanied minors from Greece.

MSF field coordinator Eirini Papanastasiou said there wre some 5,000 abandoned child refugees in Greece.

In the refugees centre on Samos island with a capacity for 650, there are 7,000 people, including 300 unaccompanied minors, she said, adding that 15 percent of the children are aged under 13. There is not enough water and food, and the sanitary conditions are bad, she said.

Papanastasiou said some children were in such a bad state that they stopped eating and speaking.

Some opposition politicians want to press on the government it this, too.

Mayors and Independents (STAN) deputy chairman Jan Farsky said it was absurd that the rather rich Czechia with a humanist tradition did not provide any aid for more than a year.

In 2018, Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) MEP Michaela Sojdrova proposed that the Czech Republic accept some 50 Syrian children from Greek refugee camps last year. Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) said in reaction that Czechia would not accept any migrants and that aid to refugees should be provided in their countries of origin. Babis then mentioned his plan to build an orphan centre in Syria. The Respekt weekly reported recently that the plan had fallen through.

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Sojdrova said the Greek request was an offer for voluntary solidarity. “We have been hearing all the time that the Czech Republic is for voluntary solidarity. When we can show the solidarity now, we are choosing whether the children are small. We are unable to behave responsibly,” she said.

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