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Czech News in English » News » National » Interior Minister: Refugee centre is no torture chamber

Interior Minister: Refugee centre is no torture chamber

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Bela p.B., Central Bohemia, Nov 5 (CTK) – The refugee facility in Bela pod Bezdezem is no torture chamber, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) said yesterday before entering the centre criticised over mistreatment of the refugees.

Chovanec has dismissed the criticism, arguing that the conditions in the Czech Republic are better than in other countries to which the migrants have wandered.

“This (centre in Bela) is no torture chamber. This is a facility detaining the people who do not want asylum in the Czech Republic,” Chovanec said.

During his visit, he is accompanied by Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova (CSSD). He also invited ambassadors of European countries to the camp.

Marksova came to see the children. There are about 30 of them in the facility.

Marksova said the care for the children in the centre was good.

Ombudsman Anna Sabatova who previously criticised the conditions in the camp wrote yesterday that they are now completely different from what they were in August and in early October.

She said the situation then was very bad. “We praise this change. However, we will be able to make the final assessment only after we pay a control visit there,” she wrote in a statement CTK has at its disposal.

English ambassador to the Czech Republic Jan Thompson told the Czech Television (CT) public broadcaster that the conditions are adequately good and that she is pleased that the Czech government is doing everything for the conditions to be good.

However, the foreigners who had a chance of meeting journalists on Thursday spoke rather critically.

“We could see children’s clubs, we could see children’s playgrounds,” Marksova said.

“I was told that there is a nice kindergarten. We were told about leisure time activities performed by a relevant employee with the children here,” Marksova said.

At first sight, the facility is not ideal, but as it is a makeshift home, “one can hold out in it,” she added.

A youth, 23, from Afghanistan told journalists he felt like in a prison there.

He complained about bad health care and interpreting services.

He said a week ago, the situation in the camp had started to improve.

In all, the number of the people accommodated in the centre has fallen to 70.

Thanks to this, the situation in the camp with the capacity of 700 beds has improved.

NGOs have also voiced objections to the situation there.

The Czech Republic was criticised for its approach to the refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein.

Chovanec says the conditions of refugees are consistent with what is usual in the 21st century.

There are three centers for foreigners in the Czech Republic. One is in Bela-Jezova (700 beds), central Bohemia, another in Drahonice (240 beds), north Bohemia, and one in Vysni Lhoty, north Moravia (420 beds).

Another reserve facility will be opened in Balkova, some ten kilometres away from Drahonice.

At present, there are 371 foreigners in the centres, mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Ukraine.

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