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Conditions at Czech refugee camp miserable: Rights observer

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows a view of the Bela-Jezova detention center for refugees in the Czech Republic.

A human rights observer has described conditions at a detention center in the western part of the Czech Republic for refugees passing through the Central European country without a visa as deplorable and appalling.

Anna Sabatova, an independent rights observer tasked with monitoring the government activities, said on Tuesday that the refugee center in the northern village of Bela-Jezova, located in the central Bohemia region and about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of the capital, Prague, “in many respects offers worse conditions than Czech prisons.”

Sabatova added that the refugees were “debased in front of their children, being transported to the center in handcuffs and locked behind a four-meter (13-foot) fence with barbed wire.”

“Every evening the foreigners are pulled out of bed by police, who sometimes wear helmets or balaclavas, to be counted. If the children are asleep, the parents must wake them and make them stand up,” the observer said.

On October 11, the Czech Organization for Aid to Refugees, also known as the OPU, criticized the government in Prague for its policies vis-à-vis refugees, particularly a decision by the Czech Interior Ministry to concentrate families with children in the Bela-Jezova detention center.

The file photo shows guards at the Bela-Jezova detention center for refugees in the Czech Republic.


“Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has decided to disrespect the Supreme Administration Court's decision as well as the recent resolution by the State Human Rights Council, and he has again started concentrating refugee families with children in Bela-Jezova,” said the OPU director Martin Rozumek.

“Pregnant women do not undergo the necessary check-ups. Women have no access to sanitary aids. Child formula and food are lacking.”

“The Czech asylum and migration policy is xenophobic. The interior minister considers every foreigner dangerous. The approach of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka towards refugees is undignified for both the foreigners and the Czech Republic’s image abroad,” Rozumek said.

The inmates being kept at Bela-Jezova center complain that the items given by people to charities and humanitarian groups to be distributed among them do not reach them at all.

Some even say the facility’s management has seized their money upon arrival, and has only given them 400 korunas (about 16.7 US dollars) as a subsidy for travel expenses once released from the facility.

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