Prague, Mar 15 (EFE).- The Czech Republic, a central European country with no borders with Ukraine, has welcomed over 150,000 Ukrainian refugees who fled their country since Russia began its invasion less than three weeks ago.
In Prague, an army of volunteers welcomes and distributes the refugees – mostly arriving by train from neighboring Slovakia, which borders Ukraine – through different absorption and basic needs centers.
The main entry point to the country is Prague Central Station, where trains arrive every hour, carrying over 700 people from Ukraine.
Larisa is one of the refugees who arrived on Tuesday from Kharkiv, one of the worst-hit cities by the Russian bombing. She has come accompanied by a friend and her daughter.
“We have been traveling almost 48 hours. Today I would go home, if I could,” a tearful Larisa told Efe.
The Czech Republic has the capacity to absorb the equivalent of 2 percent of the country’s population, that is, about 215,000 people, according to the government’s estimations.
At the current rhythm, it is expected to reach full capacity within a few days as some 160,000 refugees have been granted residence permits, according to the interior ministry.
Most of the refugees stay in Prague, home to a large Ukrainian community of 160,000 before the invasion began on 24 February.
“I have relatives here. I’m going to rest first. Then I’ll look for a job. I am a student of physical education”, Taimila, from Kharkiv, told Efe.
A dozen trains arrive every day at Prague Central Station, where passengers are offered food, blankets, SIM cards for mobile phones and information on connections to other destinations.
Those who wish to stay in the country are then transferred to the nearby bus terminal to go to the main assistance point and refugees reception, set up in the Prague Congress Center.
The refugees are granted public medical insurance, an initial aid of about 200 euros from the government, as well as guidance in their search for accommodation and work.
Since the war began, the center has received 36,000 people, 10% of whom have needed help to find formal accommodation, while 500 people have been housed in emergency places, such as sports centers or cultural venues. EFE