In the coming weeks, the Czech Ministry of Interior will send 87 million korunas (€3.26 million) to foreign partners to help them deal with the migration crisis.
Although the ministers nodded at Interior Minister Jan Hamáček’s proposal to release a total of 189 million korunas (€7.1 million) for the humanitarian programs for programs like Medevac at the end of February, the coronavirus crisis has stopped the disbursement of money.
“The On-Site Assistance program aims to combat illegal migration, strengthen asylum systems, improve technical equipment at borders, protect women and children, and provide direct assistance to refugees,” the interior minister said, adding that the Czech Republic was helping countries with major migration problems.
Although migration partially decreased during the pandemic, after easing the coronavirus restrictions, it is starting to gain momentum again. This is one of the reasons why, for example, 27 million korunas (€1 million) is destined to go to Greece, which is facing increased pressure on the border with Turkey. The financial donation to the Greek Ministry of Citizens’ Protection is to be used to protect the EU’s external borders.
Another 20 million korunas (€751,000) will be given to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help Serbia, which is a transit country. The money is also designed to integrate migrants.
The Czech Republic will help Lebanon as it faces historic crisis
Half of the money should go to Lebanon to support Syrian migrants. It is this Middle Eastern country that has the most refugees in the world in terms of population.
According to the Czech Interior Ministry, Lebanon is facing a political, economic, and coronavirus crisis, which is having a devastating effect on the people.
As a part of the Medevac program, millions of korunas will go to Mali, Ukraine, and Lebanon. The goal of the program has been to provide quality medical care free of charge to people in places that have been facing a shortage of doctors for a long period of time.
This year, Czech specialists will probably not go to the affected areas, so the aid will be limited to funding. In the case of Mali, five million korunas (€187,000) are earmarked to help the International Committee of the Red Cross to support orthopedic and rehabilitation services in the country.
The Interior Ministry intends to send the same amount internally to Ukraine through the Adra organization to support health care and prevent the spread of Covid-19 in medical facilities.
Consensus between the Czech government and opposition
Although humanitarian aid is fully within the competence of the government, it also has support from the Czech opposition.
“On-the-spot assistance is the most effective and also the cheapest,” Ondřej Benešík, chairman of the House Committee on European Affairs, said, adding that it was not altruism but an investment.
“If the problem is passed on to us, of course, there is a risk of uncontrolled migration,” he said. Benešík appreciated that even at a time when the Czech Republic and the whole world are fighting the coronavirus, the government and the Ministry of Interior did not restrict this form of aid.
“I think we are making a clear statement of our solidarity in a way that is truly effective and works, unlike mandatory redistributive quotas,” he concluded.