Syrian officials have demanded six times more money from the Czech Republic to build a proposed orphanage, forcing Czech authorities to back out of the project.
According to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the Syrian proposal was economically unfeasible despite his desire to see it happen.
This April, Babiš stated that the project was ready to get started and that he wanted to set up a foundation to help fund it. Babiš also said he already had a site selected for the orphanage center in Syria.
The construction of a center, including sports facilities and a school for up to 50 children, was expected to cost approximately CZK 65 million (€2,5 million).
Czech company Cubespace, which builds modular houses, was supposed to implement the project. According to Babiš, the plan was conceived by him personally and would be built under his direction, citing concerns the project would be ineffective if organized by outside authorities.
In early November, however, the prime minister announced that the project had been halted.
“The Syrian side told us that it did not want us to do it and submitted its own proposal, which was about six times more expensive than ours. We didn’t make a deal, so the project won’t continue,” he said.
Babiš’ decision comes on the heels of opposition proposals that would see orphans come to the Czech Republic, with MP Michaela Šojdrová (KDU-ČSL) requesting to move 50 Syrian orphans from refugee camps in Greece to the Czech Republic.
Babiš called Šojdrová’s proposal meaningless and argued that governments need to help orphans in their country of origin. Czech and Greek authorities discussed Šojdrová´s proposal, but it never happened. Instead, the two countries explored ways to fund an orphanage project in Syria.