Czech Republic

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR, in December 2014 3,137 refugees resided in the Czech Republic. In 2014, the Czech Republic received 905 first-time asylum applications, an increase from 490 in 2013 (data from Eurostat). The top three citizenships of asylum seekers in 2014 were Ukraine (515), Syria (110) and Vietnam (65).

Government’s approach

Initially in January 2015, the Czech government agreed to receive 70 Syrian refugees, and it was against mandatory quotas, in fact voting against it, along with Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

In July the government announced that the information campaign will be prepared in order to respond to the fear of refugees growing in Czech society. The campaign will involve local government and churches. In local communities, where refugees will be relocated, meetings will be held, during which refugees will tell their stories to the local residents.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Demonstrations of anti-immigrant character and in support of immigration took place in Prague over the last months. The newly established association ‘Bloc Against Islam’ prepared an anti-refugee petition, which was signed by over 145,000 Czechs and presented to the Petitions Committee of the Czech Parliament in June 2015.

Czech churches in their statement from 4th July declared solidarity with refugees and active support for refugee reception in the country.

In response to growing xenophobia in the country, Czech academics signed a petition against fear and indifference.

Czech intellectuals, artists and politicians joined others from new EU member countries to sign a solidarity appeal from Central Europe in response to the migrant crisis. Text of the letter is available on Stefan Batory Foundation website.

Support from academia came also from Charles University in Prague, which offered free study and accommodation for refugees.

With the support of the UNHCR in Prague, database regarding refugee assistance was created, which gives information on where volunteers are needed and where different services for refugees are offered. The database is administrated by Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic.

Media

Tabloids publish racist and xenophobic content, increasing fear of refugees coming to Europe.

Public opinion

In spring 2015 18 per cent of Czechs saw immigration as a major issue facing the country, an increase of 10 per cent since autumn 2014.  Similarly, national public opinion survey pointed to a rise in sense of threat coming from Islamic fundamentalism and the situation in the Middle East. According to another survey from June 2015, over 70 per cent of Czechs were against accepting Syrian and North African refugees.