Czech police called an extraordinary press conference on Tuesday morning regarding controls at the border with Slovakia after a massive influx of illegal migrants. According to the police, the number of detained migrants in the last two months has exceeded the figures from the migration crisis in 2015.
“It is necessary to prepare for an emergency. The number of migrants has been growing significantly in recent months, and we must therefore minimize the negative effects of the migration situation, which could affect the lives of citizens,” said interior minister Vít Rakušan.
“The police check measures in place on the border with Slovakia at former crossing points and trains, and every day they secure around 100 illegal migrants (…) Currently, we are conducting criminal proceedings against 55 smugglers. The penalty is up to five years in prison,” said Police President Martin Vondrášek.
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According to the police chief, Czechia must separate the wave of refugees from the war in Ukraine since the Ukrainians are entering Czech territory legally.
“Migrants heading mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, or Turkey, on the other hand, enter our country and stay in our territory illegally,” Vondrášek said.
Police are now conducting exercises at the border with Slovakia to better train and prepare for a crisis, with a similar such exercise taking place on the borders with Slovakia and Austria last year at the end of September. During that exercise, police trained at former border crossings, and the armed forces simulated the actual conditions that would occur in the event of needing to introduce border controls. Extras pretending to be migrants were also detained by police to simulate a mass arrest situation.
From the beginning of this year until Aug. 8, the police detected 2,485 illegal migrants in transit. In some cases, these migrants tried to enter through Czechia by air. However, the police detained most of them in the South Moravian and Zlín regions.
“Citizens of Syria were detected most often, numbering 1,885 people and making up 78 percent of the total number detected during illegal migration,” told police spokeswoman Irena Pilařová.
Migrants from Syria were followed by those from Turkey (124 detained) and Afghanistan (93).
The police emphasized that they guard the border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where most migrants flow, with the help of the most modern technology, including helicopters, drones, and thermal cameras.
“We carry out residence checks on the territory of the Czech Republic, which lead to the detection of illegal migrants. For this purpose, we use the available forces and resources,” said police spokeswoman Pilařová.