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MfD: ČR plans measures to face mass influx of refugees

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Prague, June 24 (CTK) – The Czech Republic has plans how to partially or completely close its border in the case of a mass influx of illegal refugees, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes yesterday.
So far the Czech police have intensified checks on roads and railways, in particular aboard the trains from Hungary and on selected roads in the borderland.
However, people may meet policemen even at border crossings in forests and sometimes even on tourist tracks these days, MfD says.
The reasons are apparent. Up to 500 new refugees arrive in the neighbouring Austria every day. A number of them stay in refugee camps close to the Czech border and they want to get to Germany or Scandinavian countries, MfD writes.
This is why the number of illegal immigrants detained in the Czech Republic has been steeply rising in the past days. Their number tripled to around 100 in the past week.
This is why the Czech police and the Interior Ministry are drafting plans to face a possible mass inflow of refugees that would resemble the current situation in Austria.
“There are basically three variants that are to be discussed with the military, the customs authority, firefighters and the Prison Service now,” foreigner police chief Milan Majer told MfD.
According to the first alternative, checks would be resumed at main border crossings on first-class roads, while customs officers and soldiers would help the police. Hundreds of people would assist in the checks.
Another alternative is to renew checks at all border crossings, which would include even tourist paths, while the police would need a significant assistance of the military and customs officers to fulfil the task. Up to 1,000 people would be required.
The emergency alternative would be to protect the entire border with Germany, Austria and Slovakia, from where most refugees may come, that is 1,526 kilometres. Some 5,000 people would have to secure this measure, including 3,500 police officers, 1,000 soldiers and the rest would be customs officers and possibly firefighters. Dog handlers would also be deployed again to protect the border, MfD writes.
According to the paper’s information, the plan to close the border was discussed by the Interior Ministry’s migration and asylum policy section headed by Tomas Haisman and with Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (senior government Social Democrats, CSSD).
However, the complete border closure does not seem to be very probable.
Nevertheless, even resumed checks at the main border crossings would mean an enormous change for Czechs who have been used to cross the border freely since the country joined the Schengen Area in 2007. Especially if the checks were introduced during the summer holiday, it would cause long lines at the border, MfD adds.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) confirmed the existence of this plans, but he said he believed that the Czech Republic would not have to implement them. He also pointed out very high costs of such measures.
The renewal of border checks would be also problematic over the Schengen agreement that enables to resume border checks after consultations with the other Schengen countries and only for a limited time of up to one month for security or public interest reasons, MfD writes.
In addition, the foreigner police have only 2,320 officers and they can hardly manage the border protection alone. They would need hundreds of other people from the military and the customs authority, MfD writes.
The military would be willing to help, but the government would have to approve its deployment, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said, adding that such considerations are merely theoretical for the time being.

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