Government Extends Refugees’ Emergency Lodging Rules By One Year
The temporary protection of refugees will remain in force in the Czech Republic and other EU states at least until 31 March 2024. Photo credit: JMK.
Prague, March 23 (CTK) – The Czech government yesterday extended the validity of the rules for emergency accommodation of war refugees by one year, until 31 March 2024, Interior Minister Vit Rakusan told CTK.
The temporary protection of refugees will remain in force in the Czech Republic and other EU states at least until then.
The cabinet also prolonged the payment of the solidarity subsidy by another three months until the end of June. This is paid to those who accommodate refugees in their homes or vacant flats for free or for the price of utilities only.
The state provides subsidies for emergency accommodation of refugees in hostels, hotels and guesthouses. It pays 300 crowns per person per day to accommodation facilities operated by towns and regions, and 350 crowns to other accommodation providers.
Without the extension, the current directive would expire at the end of March and there would be no rules for refugees’ accommodation, said Rakusan (STAN).
The Interior Ministry originally forecast spending on emergency accommodation to reach CZK 3.5 to 4 billion this year, if the number of refugees in accommodation remained unchanged.
However, spending will be affected by a planned change to the system of subsidies as a result of the amended “Lex Ukraine”, under which the state will fund refugees’ accommodation in hostels, hotels, guesthouses and other facilities for a limited period of time only. After 150 days, ie. five months, refugees should either start paying the cost of their accommodation themselves or find other lodging. This does not apply to parents with small children, disabled people, and seniors.
Based on the law, refugees should not remain in emergency accommodation for a long time. They should not stay in accommodation facilities longer than three months and in gyms, arenas and similar places longer than one month.
Experts say that accommodation in flats is more suitable for the social integration of refugees, and is also cheaper.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last year, the Czech Interior Ministry has issued almost 497,700 protection visas to Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children. The refugees are renewing their registration in this period, with 31 March as the deadline to apply for an extension of their temporary protection in the Czech Republic. So far, around 271,000 of them have done so, Rakusan said a few days ago.
The payment of the solidarity subsidy to those providing free accommodation to refugees in their homes or vacant flats has been extended until the end of June, and the eligibility criteria and the amount of the subsidy remain unchanged, according to the Labour Ministry.
The Ministry added that on suspicion of misuse of the digitised subsidy system in some cases, it had launched checks and will now file a number of criminal complaints.
Labor Minister Marian Jurecka (KDU-CSL) told journalists yesterday that the solidarity subsidy will remain in effect after 1 July, but the system will change.
The solidarity subsidy was introduced by the Lex Ukraine, and the subsidy rules have been defined by the cabinet through directives.
The state sends 5,000 crowns to flat owners for one refugee accommodated for free in a vacant flat, 9,000 crowns for two, 12,000 for three, 14,000 for four and 15,000 for five and more persons. Those accommodating refugees in their homes are eligible for 3,000 crowns per person a month, but a total of 9,000 crowns a month at the most.
The state spends CZK 167 million per month on the solidarity subsidies, with a total expenditure of CZK 2 billion from March 2022 to the end of February 2023.
In January, the Labor Office paid out 23,200 solidarity subsidies, in February one hundred fewer.