Czech PM donates to Syrian child refugees, drops building project

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Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš does not plan to build a center for orphans in Syria anymore, and instead, he will personally send 500,000 korunas (€20,000) to local organizations looking after orphaned children.

According to Babiš, there are enough Christian or Muslim organizations in Syria looking after children without one or both parents. However, they lack money for clothing and teachers’ salaries.

“Because of the war, banks in Syria are out of order, so a local organization approached us asking for financial assistance. I will personally contribute with 500,000 korunas (€20,000) and I hope that others will join me,” the prime minister wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

Last year, an area in Syria for the orphan center was selected. The center, which planned to house 50 children, included sports facilities and a school, and was expected to cost about 65 million korunas (€2.5 million).

Babiš conceived the project as his personal initiative. According to him, it would not be effective if organized by government authorities.

In November, however, the plan failed because the Syrian side was not interested in the center and submitted its own proposal, which was significantly more expensive than the Czech vision.

Babiš formulated the orphanage in response to previous suggestions from MEP Michaela Šojdrová (KDU-ČSL) to move 50 Syrian orphans from refugee camps in Greece to the Czech Republic.

On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) said that the Czech Republic would not admit children from Greek refugee camps because Greece denied providing the required list of 40 orphans.

According to Hamáček, there is a risk, for example, that Afghans and Pakistanis between the ages of 16 and 18 may end up coming to the Czech Republic, which he considers an unacceptable security risk.

According to Médecins Sans Frontières representatives, there were 5,000 unaccompanied refugee children in Greece last November. In the refugee center on the island of Samos, there were 7,000 people, 300 of which were unaccompanied children. However, only 15 percent of them were under 13 years of age.

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