Iraqi refugees start integrating into Czech society

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Prague, July 14 (CTK) – Forty Iraqi refugees who came to the Czech Republic within a programme of the Generation 21 Endowment have already moved to flats, they are learning Czech and some started to work, the group has said on its web page.
It pays for the stay of the refugees in the Czech Republic. One half of them are in Prague and one half in Cesky Tesin, north Moravia.

At first, the endowment wanted to bring 153 Christians from Iraq. However, it eventually only transported 89 of them.

In April, the government cancelled the project after a group of 25 refugees left for Germany. Now German authorities want to return them to the Czech Republic.

An eight-member family felt so homesick that it left back for Iraq and another 16 refugees also left. The endowment provides care to the remaining 40.

In Prague, the refugees are helped by the Salvation Army that is in charge of five families with children, one married couple, two single women and one man.

“All of them already live in flats, scattered across Prague. They are intensively learning Czechs,” Salvation Army coordinator Petr Janousek has told CTK.

“Children have enrolled in schools where their teaching starts in September. Some of them are now in a children’s camp, others are getting ready for it,” Janousek said.

The refugees have already been granted asylum in the Czech Republic.

The last families in Prague may fetch their documents with biometric data next week.

Asylum holders can seek work without a work permit in the Czech Republic.

One of the men has already been employed by an IT firm, Janousek said.

“None of them intends to escape anywhere. But it is difficult for them. After a few months in safety, depression appears among them,” he added.

“They realise that the new situation is for long, maybe forever,” Janousek said.

All asylum holders are trying to be integrated into the Czech Republic. However, they faced problems with housing because some landlords did not want foreigners in their houses, he added.

Others resented people from the Middle East or Iraqi refugees. The housing costs are covered by the endowment, but the asylum holders have the rent contract.

The endowment has dismissed the speculations that it wants to bring some more refugees to the Czech Republic.

“We are not thinking of this in the foreseeable future,” the endowment said.

“The media was only told that if the situation basically alters, we do not fully rule out an attempt at something like this in the future,” it added.

The people who devote their efforts to the refugees hope that the government will reconsider its position and will allow in those who could not come due to the cancellation of the project at the last moment.

“Now the people know what expects them. They are in contact with those who are already here. They have undergone a selection process,” Janousek said.