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LN: Number of asylum seekers in ČR dropping

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Prague, Oct 1 (CTK) – The number of asylum seekers in the Czech Republic has been decreasing unlike the trend in a crushing majority of other EU member states during the current migration wave, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes yesterday.
The paper adds that the government has a chance of improving the country’s reputation thanks to the obligatory refugee quotas though it has accepted them unwillingly.
In 2008, the Czech Republic registered 1060 applications for international protection, while last year it was only 801, LN writes.
In the first quarter of 2015, 360 foreigners asked for international protection in the Czech Republic, but from April to June it was a mere 275 foreigners, which is some 25 precent less, according to the Eurostat EU statistical office.
Out of the EU 28, only the neighbouring Slovakia and Croatia, which the refugee wave has bypassed so far, have faced a steeper decline in the number of asylum applicants than the Czech Republic. In the second quarter of this year, a record low number of people, 25, sought asylum in Slovakia, LN says.
The data from the Czech Interior Ministry have confirmed the trend. In July and August, the most suitable months for migration to Europe, it registered only 161 new applications for international protection.
The Ministry explained it saying the Czech Republic is not enough attractive for migrants compared with the neighbouring Germany where most of them are heading not only because of generous welfare benefits, but also a strong community of migrants, in which a number of refugees have their family members, lives in Germany.
Four in ten asylum applicants in the EU want to stay in Germany, according to statistics.
“The Czech authorities do not prevent anyone from applying for asylum here. However, we cannot cajole anyone into it. I have tried it once and have not been successful at all,” Tomas Haisman, head of the Interior Ministry’s asylum and migration policy section, said at a seminar in the Chamber of Deputies recently.
This is also reflected in the share of nationalities of the foreigners who seek asylum in the Czech Republic most often.
Almost a half of such applications were filed by Ukrainians (467) this year, followed by Cubans (106). On the other hand, 69 Syrians, who dominate the current refugee influx, sought asylum in the Czech Republic in the first eight months of this year, LN writes.
Only seven of them were granted full asylum, while more than 50 had to be satisfied with a lower status of “additional protection” valid for one or two years. Then their applications are processed anew, LN adds.
Martin Rozumek, director of the Organisation for Aid to Refugees, has criticised this practice.
An amendment to the asylum law, demanded by Brussels, on which the Chamber of Deputies is to vote next week, might change it. It is based on two EU directives. One of them modifies the filing of asylum applications, while the other defines the minimum standards for migrants’ accommodation and their children’s position, LN writes.
The Czech Republic, along with other 18 EU countries, has not yet managed to transpose them into its laws. The new amendment should formally solve the problem, LN adds.
It says the amendment would enable asylum seekers to start working after nine months of submitting the application, now it is one year, and have a quite loose regime instead of detention.
However, the most significant change is that the Interior Ministry would lose its exclusive power to grant asylum. Under the new bill, administrative courts would also be authorised to decide on international protection or grant asylum directly. At present the courts must always return such cases to the Interior Ministry’ asylum section, LN adds.

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