OSCE PA’s visit to Czech Republic highlights challenges of meeting Ukrainian refugees’ needs

161222 prague 1OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Migration field visit to Prague, 14 December 2022PRAGUE, 16 December 2022 – Members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration today concluded a three-day field visit to Prague, where they met a range of ministers, legislators, stakeholders and policy advocates to focus on the response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis and develop policy recommendations for the wider OSCE area. With the aim of learning more about how Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed in the Czech Republic, the committee members identified best practices that can be replicated in other countries, but also observed areas for improvement.

Developing effective and sustainable responses is especially important as the war continues and a potential new influx of Ukrainians is expected to seek refuge in Europe, the PA delegation said. In particular focus was the implementation of the European Union’s temporary protection mechanism that provides immediate and collective protection to Ukrainian citizens and others fleeing Ukraine and the Czech legal framework for meeting the challenge of hosting nearly half a million refugees from Ukraine – the largest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita in Europe.

The OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee members met with Czech parliamentarians including the Vice-President of the lower chamber Olga Richterová as well as members of the Czech Delegation to the PA, and various parliamentary committees, officials from relevant ministries, and the Government Commissioner for Human Rights. They were hosted by the OSCE PA’s Czech Delegation and the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament.

“Czechia is doing its best to provide refuge for as many Ukrainians as possible and to make them feel welcome and safe here,” said Lucie Potůčková, Member of the OSCE PA Czech Delegation. “We are also looking into how we can provide more adapted care to those who need it, for example through innovative means of delivering psychological support.”

161222 prague 2Visit to an elementary school in Prague hosting children from Ukraine, 16 December 2022Ad Hoc Committee members also met with local authorities, including the Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib, visited the Regional Centre for Assistance and Help to Ukraine (KACPU) in Prague and as well as an elementary school where Ukrainian children are enrolled. In meetings, the Ad Hoc Committee members focused on critical areas such as accommodation, access to education, employment, health care and social services as well as the protection of refugees in vulnerable categories, and prevention of trafficking in human beings.

“It is heartbreaking to see the hardship that Ukrainians have had to endure due to the Russian invasion, but also inspiring to see the solidarity on display in the Czech Republic,” said Rt. Hon. Mark Pritchard (United Kingdom), Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration and Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. “The efforts of the authorities at all levels – from the national to the local – and the dedication of civil society have not gone unnoticed. All of our countries, including mine, could do well to learn from the Czech experience and people.”

With the onset of cold weather and the Russian military’s targeting of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, Ad Hoc Committee members were particularly interested to learn more about preparations for a potential future wave of refugees over the winter and where national, regional and municipal help is most needed and where additional help from the international community is most required.

Committee Vice-Chair Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus) highlighted the contribution of NGOs and volunteers: “Effective responses to managing crises such as the influx of Ukrainian Refugees into Europe are not possible without the support of civil society. I have been impressed by the professionalism and compassion displayed by Czech NGOs and volunteers in meeting these challenges. The Czech response has shown that when there is a will, there is a way.”

In addition to Pritchard, the delegation included Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus), Vice-Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration and Special Representative on Civil Society Engagement; Georgios Varemenos (Greece), Member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration. Lucie Potůčková, Hayato Josef Okamura and Jana Pastuchová from the Czech PA Delegation also participated in some of the meetings.

The Committee’s observations will be published in full in early 2023.

Photos of the visit are available on Flickr.



Нэт Пэрри

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