At midnight, the Prague Assistance Center, one of the largest organizations in the country dedicated to helping refugees, will close.
Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) claimed that the capital is no longer able to accept more refugees. He has said that at Friday’s meeting with Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) he will demand that the refugees be distributed to other regions based on their population. Fiala called the closure of the center “unreasonable”.
One of the primary objectives of Friday’s meeting is to discuss who bears the financial and political responsibility of taking in and providing for refugees.
“Not only in Prague but in other regional capitals too, there are also increasing rents. This is pushing up the cost of living in the context of the energy crisis and inflation, so I wonder who will solve it? ” Hřib declared.
The Prague Assistance Center has helped almost 100,000 refugees since the beginning of its operation. Recently, that has meant that over 500 people a day will check in to the center. For example, on Tuesday, 622 people were checked in in Prague. The accommodation was provided for 60 and 41 were transferred to other KACPUs for clearance.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, almost 8 million people have left the country, with almost as many displaced internally. Almost 400,000 have been granted temporary protection visas in Czechia, allowing them to stay for up to a year.
Dozens of people, including a group of siblings from Transcarpathian Ukraine, were waiting in front of the assistance center on Wednesday afternoon. They hoped that Prague would be their final destination. “We have a sister here who has lived here for a long time, so here we are. All people are very good here, they will show you where to go, what to do.”
According to the authorities, while the center has been temporarily closed, much of its infrastructure remains in place. There is little to stop a speedy reopening of the center if it is allowed. In the meantime, the center will be replaced by an information service starting on Thursday.
The center serves both Prague and the Central Bohemian Region. According to President Petra Pecková (STAN), the regional government will step in to manage the situation.
“The mayor has been warning for a long time that Prague has not been able to do this. He is the mayor of Prague and is defending the interests of the capital,” she said.Both Prime Minister Fiala and Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan (STAN) have sharply criticized the closure of the assistance center.
Fiala has previously stated that this is an election campaign. “The government is trying, and it is, to register in places other than Prague,” he said. According to Rakušan, the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy and the Aliens Police should intervene and help.