‘They will stay here and take our jobs!’ — Some Czechs criticize aid to refugees

Refugees that fled the war in Ukraine wait to get registered at the congress center in Prague, Czech Republic, on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
By Lucie Ctverakova
5 Min Read

The war in Ukraine has stirred a wave of solidarity in the Czech Republic, but not everyone shares it, the iDNES.cz news outlet reported after talking to people who are dissatisfied with the level of assistance being offered to Ukrainians.

Some people do not like the benefits that make it easier for refugees to live in asylum. They do not like that Ukrainians receive 5,000 korunas (€205) a month and are offered free services, or that Ukrainian flags hang on houses.

Many respondents who wrote offensive comments about refugees on social media eventually softened their statements in private conversations.

“I do not want a war. I’m not on either side. I feel sorry for children and old people,” most of them say in their answers.

People who reject Czech aid to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees state that they worry about those less qualified losing their jobs. They also point out that Ukrainians do not speak Czech and have free entries to the zoo or to castles and chateaux.

“Should I pay for our historical sites while they can visit for free? At the same time, the entrance fee is not cheap even for the Czechs,” said Jana.

The form of help should change

Some respondents also emphasized that they would rather help refugees, for example, by sending food or clothes.

“We should take care of those poor individuals,” says retired pensioner Milan, but added that those who arrived in Mercedes cars should not be entitled to the aid.

Many respondents also softened their previous statements posted on social media when talking to a journalist.

“I am ready to help. We had two housing units ready for two refugee families. But they turned us down because they wanted to stay in a hotel. This is not how I would imagine someone in a desperate situation,” said Jana.

“How is it possible that suddenly city flats are available and mothers with children and no means, often with two or three jobs, live in shelters?” asked Jana.

She was also outraged by the alleged disorderly behavior of Ukrainians in the Czech Republic.

The iDNES.cz journalists also contacted Alena, who acknowledged that the war was terrible and that civilians, especially children, women, and old and sick people, will always be the victims.

“But I don’t like how the Ukrainian flags are flown everywhere and on public buildings,” she noted, adding: “As far as I know, we are in the Czech Republic, so the flags of the Czech Republic should fly here.

“Solidarity with Ukraine and condemnation of what is happening there can be expressed differently, for example, by a humanitarian fundraiser or donating money,” she suggested.

There is a yellow-blue madness

“People who travel around Europe do not see this yellow-blue madness in other countries to such an extent. No one will convince me that this symbolizes support for Ukraine. It can be demonstrated in other ways. And it also bothers me how the Czech government is no longer the government of the Czech Republic but is playing the role of the exile government of Ukraine,” Alena pointed out, adding that there is a danger of a collapse in healthcare, education, accommodation capacities, not to mention that refugees are not tested for Covid-19 at all.

“Ukrainians will have nowhere to return, so they will stay here and take our jobs. They will occupy handicraft and less qualified jobs. The rich will not take them to their offices,” craftsman Jaroslav shared his worries.

However, Martin Buchtík, director of the STEM research agency, explained that this is not a majority attitude, but, on the contrary, a minority one.

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