Friday before noon. Thirty Ukrainian Roma sit near the main train station in Brno. There are about ten children under the age of fifteen, including toddlers. There are several prams in the area, foam mattresses and rubbish are lying there.
“This group has been here for about three days. They always take the train somewhere, then they come back. They spend the night outside. They can’t sleep in the station building, it closes for people without a ticket for the night, “said a member of the security service guarding the station.
While the authorities in Prague have resolved the critical situation at the train station by building a tent town for 150 people, Brno is still waiting in vain for comprehensive instructions from the government. There, too, some newcomers fall through the refugee reception system.
The vast majority have the status of temporary protection, but they refused the offered accommodation in the regional assistance center. Numerous families refuse to split up. “It simply came to our notice then. There is no way we can force people on the street to move. It is purely their decision, “said the mayor of Brno Markéta Vaňková (ODS).
The city administration is calling for state help. “A global solution is needed. This is not only a problem in Brno, but also in Prague and Ostrava. The pre-station area is not intended for bivouacs, “said the mayor’s deputy Robert Kerndl (ODS), who is in charge of the social area.
The police are also supervising the situation. “If there are problems, we solve it by correcting the situation, by agreement. We cooperate with non-profits. But the overall strategy is not a task for the police, “said police spokesman Pavel Šváb.
Photo: Tomáš Svoboda, Connexionblog
Temporarily in the barracks
A large group of Roma camped in front of the main station at the beginning of May. The city administration temporarily housed a hundred refugees in the former barracks of Židenice. Matěj Nový, a member of the Bučovice Christian Aid Association, took care of them there.
“It simply came to our notice then. They were Ukrainian Roma, but they spoke Hungarian. They surprised us. They cleaned, followed the regime. When they were motivated, they were perfect, “he described the three days together.
According to him, the refugees wanted to stay, but the barracks lacked the necessary social facilities. “In addition, a hundred residents invited relatives, and last Wednesday another 200 Roma appeared at the station, heading for us. We immediately agreed with the city management that they needed to be divided, “the pastor explained.
Last week, Mayor Vankova indicated that some Ukrainian Roma migrate throughout the country, travel outside the Czechia and return for benefits.
“Within Europe, it is not monitored what level of protection these refugees will receive in individual states. It is possible that they can use the benefits in more countries, but I have not verified this information, “she added.
A distinction needs to be made
Josef Vlach, Operations Manager of IQ Roma Servis, also helped to solve the situation at the Main Railway Station several times. “According to our information, these may be groups that travel and are used to living in other European cities outside the Union. It can be an organized group. If the benefits system does not change, these arrivals will continue to occur, “he indicated.
At the same time, he emphasized the need to differentiate in this group of refugees, some of whom immediately want to integrate and find employment. The non-profit organization in Brno alone helps with the integration of fifty Ukrainian Roma. “They are settled, most of them work and the cooperation is perfect. We deal with common life situations with them, some of the children are now attending school, “Vlach described.
He also said the state should unify regulations on how cities should proceed in these crisis situations and better control dual citizenship. “The city management is not clear whether or not social workers should take children from them, and so on,” Vlach said.
On Friday, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (STAN) presented to the deputies a strategy for managing the refugee crisis. Next week, he wants to discuss the motivational steps that will lead refugees to voluntary relocations. For example, in Prague, the capacity of accommodation or schools and kindergartens has run out.
Last week, Brno set up a ten-member advisory group. He wants to focus on the medium-term horizon of integration of Ukrainians in the range of two to three years. The sociologist Daniel Topinka was the chairman. An expert from Palacký University in the 1990s dealt with, for example, the arrival of Romanian Roma in the Czech Republic.
“These situations now seem to be crucial for the company, but they have not been a major problem in the long run. When these people find out that their status has some limits, they will probably return, “he said.