Hundreds of Roma refugees from Ukraine stuck at Prague railway station
By Gustavo Monge
Prague, May 29 (EFE).- Hundreds of Ukraine’s Roma refugees, mostly women with children and Hungarian nationals, have been stranded at Prague’s central railway station for weeks because local authorities are refusing to have them accommodated in shelters.
“There were 300 Romani people a few weeks ago, now about 500, and the number can keep increasing,” says Jakub Chromy, a crisis manager for the local humanitarian organization OPU trying to ease the situation on these people.
The Czech Republic argues that people with dual citizenships of Ukraine and an EU member state cannot receive the same aid as other war refugees.
So far, the country of 10.6 million people has issued some 340,000 special visas to refugees, including a work permit and access to medical assistance.
But for many Roma refugees, the procedure is different and slower. They are forced to wait about 10 days at the train station or in a nearby tent settlement.
During this period, these refugees undergo extensive data control to find out their history and their origin.
Liza, who comes from Dnipro, Ukraine’s fourth-largest city, arrived in Prague this week after a 12-day trip and has been stuck at the train station ever since.
After proving she does not have dual nationality, the authorities issued her a visa that allows her to stay in the country and look for a job.
“My husband is fighting in the outskirts of Kyiv. Now I want to work,” she tells Efe.
At the station, Roma refugees have set up a room with cots for women and children, but there is not enough space for all of them, forcing many to spend the night in the corridors of the station.
“We try to find acceptable housing places in coordination with local governments, but they don’t want a camp full of gypsies in their territory,” says Chromy.
Meanwhile, Czech interior minister Vit Rakusan asked the Hungarian government for more collaboration to care for the Ukrainian refugees who also have the nationality of the EU country.
He also urged the Ukrainian authorities to check people who leave the country to avoid possible system abuses in the Czech Republic.
According to the Czech authorities, there are suspicions that some of these people arrive in Prague, get the initial financial aid of 200 euros and then return to Ukraine.
Hungary’s State Secretary for International Communication and Relations told Efe via email that the government “does everything possible for peace” and that it helps the “refugees arriving from Ukraine.”EFE