They note that while Austria is currently housing more than 50,000 people in refugee camps, Czech facilities are only housing 300. “From the point of view of Austria, we are being selfish. I believe that we could manage to take in between 2,000-3,000 refugees a year,” says Tomáš Urban of People in Need.
Eva Dohnalová of the Consortium of Migrant Assistance Organisations in the Czech Republic, which represents 18 migrant NGOs in the country, notes that during the 1990s, when Bosnia-Herzegovina was afflicted by civil war, Czechs provided temporary or permanent asylum to 3,500 people:
“Over the next two years, we could manage to bring in roughly the same number. But authorities would have to increase staff levels at asylum processing centres.”
According to Dohnalová, the current drawn-out asylum procedure is highly problematic. Also difficult is the fact that those seeking
international protection are prevented from seeking employment for a year, which makes integration into society far more difficult. If the country wanted to assist more migrants, it would have to re-open shuttered asylum facilities because the capacity of those presently in operation is limited to 770 beds. The Czech government plans to accept the first 400 asylum seekers this autumn, with similar numbers to be brought in over the next two years. A figure of 1,100 is to be sourced from other EU countries, while the rest will be taken from refugee camps in Jordan, Kurdistan and Syria.