Prague, Sept 17 (CTK) – By accepting a few dozen orphans from refugee camps the Czech Republic might show its solidarity in tackling the migrant crisis, MEP Michaela Sojdrova told CTK today, adding that she would like to meet PM Andrej Babis, who opposed the plan this weekend, to discuss her initiative.
The government would play a decisive role in the intention and set the aid parametres, Sojdrova (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said.
Babis (ANO) told reporters later today that he would hear the ideas about the admission of Syrian orphans. However, he considers the proposal an empty gesture and Sojdrova’s effort to make herself visible before the EP elections, he said after a joint meeting of the Czech and Slovak governments in Kosice, east Slovakia.
At the weekend, Babis (ANO) rejected the proposal that Prague accept some 50 orphans from the camps in Greece.
“We should help children where they were born and where they are living,” Babis wrote on Facebook on Sunday, adding that he would like to mastermind the way of helping these children in their own environment.
Moreover, the orphans in the Greek refugee camps are often boys aged 12 to 17 years, Babis said. “Do the people who started writing me that they would like to take them home know about this?” Babis asked.
A number of politicians criticised Babis’s negative stance on the orphans this weekend.
Interior Minister and Deputy PM Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said today the Czech Republic had not yet received any particular proposal for accepting orphans to deal with. He reiterated that the country would be able to offer a new home to 50 children who had lost their parents in the Syrian war.
The Czechs Are Helping group has a list of more than 50 Czech families who would be willing to accept Syrian orphans, while other people offer baby-sitting, education and psychological aid to the children, the group said in a statement sent to CTK today.
The group would like a meeting of the government, opposition, experts and NGO representatives to be held to debate the issue.
“A rich and self-confident country with a strong tradition of help for the poor and helpless should look after ‘two classes’ of children fleeing from war,” said the group, established during the previous election term under the government of Social Democrat (CSSD) Bohuslav Sobotka to help those in need.
It is impossible to provide the necessary care for orphans and support their development in refugee camps, the group added.
Sojdrova told CTK that her proposal should contribute to the Czech Republic’s participation in tackling the migrant crisis by means of solidarity.
“I am warning that there are more than 3,500 children without parents in Greece, orphans unattended by adults,” she said.
The Czech Republic could admit some 50 children in view of its size as Britain would take 350, according to her.
One of the Czechoslovak Jewish children saved before WWII by Briton Nicholas Winton, Ruth Halova, called on he Czech Republic to help 50 Syrian orphans in the Senate last week.
“In the past, the Czech Republic accepted thousands of refugees. Now, we face a new situation where unattended children appear in the territory of the European Union and we could prove our solidarity and humanity,” Sojdrova explained.
Some senators and the Czechs Are Helping group have supported the initiative, she said.
She wants to ask Babis for a meeting to debate this, while the final decision would be up to the cabinet. “The government would decide on whom it would be willing to admit, under what conditions, with whom it would be negotiating and how the whole process would look like,” Sojdrova said.
The cabinet is also to decide on the children’s status in the Czech Republic.
Some of the children, especially the older ones, might stay in the Czech Republic for a certain necessary time only when they would be granted asylum or additional protection, Sojdrova said.
The government would keep these teenagers under supervision, educate them and influence them to become good people, she added.
Sojdrova also said today she would try to persuade the wives of Babis and President Milos Zeman, Monika Babisova and Ivana Zemanova, to help the children.
In reaction to it, Babisova wrote on Instagram that she felt sorry for the children and had her own opinion about the issue, but that she would not publicly meddle into politics.
“I do not intend to react to Mrs Sojdrova’s obscure and above all insincere activity at all. To make political hostages of orphans is a dangerous dirty behaviour,” Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek wrote to CTK, answering its question whether Zemanova would meet Sojdrova to discuss her proposal.