Brno/Prague, April 7 (CTK) – Eight of 89 Iraqi Christian refugees who have been granted Czech asylum within a resettlement project organised by the Generation 21 Endowment left the Czech Republic for their homeland on Thursday, citing homesickness as the reason for their return.

Before the departure, the Iraqi family returned their asylum-seeker cards to the Interior Ministry and were given back their Iraqi passports, Miroslav Makovicka, from Generation 21, told CTK.

Generation 21 has transferred a total of 89 Iraqi Christian refugees to the Czech Republic within its resettlement project so far and accommodated their groups at various places in the country. The eight-member family was among the 24 refugees accommodated in Brno.

According to Generation 21, they decided to return home due to the 63-year-old father who complained of “declining and dying” abroad.

On his departure, he was accompanied by his wife and two daughters, one with her husband and two children, the other with a child. The other daughter’s husband remained in Brno.

They set out for their way home early this morning. First, they took a train for Prague, where they officially withdrew their application for Czech asylum.

They flew from Prague to Istanbul, from where they will continue to Iraq.

“It is sad, even for us. However, two thirds of the refugees remain in Brno. Of late, they have been allotted two flats [by the City Hall] and one by a private tenant. They will move there from their hostel in a week. They will continue attending [language and integration] courses. Their children will start going to a Czech school soon,” Makovicka said.

Besides Brno, other groups of the resettled Iraqi Christian refugees stay in Prague and Sobesovice, north Moravia.

A 25-member group that stayed in Okrouhlik near Jihlava, south Moravia, for several weeks, rejected Czech asylum and left for Germany last weekend. In reaction to this, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec suspended the resettlement programme within which Generation 21 wanted to bring a total of 153 Iraqi Christian refugees to the Czech Republic.

The Czech cabinet scrapped the programme on Chovanec proposal on Thursday.

In the meantime, Germany asked Prague for the readmission of the 25 Iraqis. After being returned to the Czech Republic, they may either return to Iraq or apply for Czech asylum again.

After the cabinet meeting on Thursday, Deputy PM Andrej Babis (ANO) said the resettlement project has been “simply a failure.”

According to Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova (Social Democrats, CSSD), a mistake was made in choosing the people to be resettled by Generation 21.

The Czech state, however, should continue dealing with the further refugees who were chosen for being transferred to the Czech Republic within the now scrapped resettlement programme, Marksova and Deputy PM Pavel Belobradek (Christian Union, KDU-CSL) said.