Asylum and refugee issues, Asylum Policy in the European Union, Information on Countries of Origin, Resettlement
- Is an instrument that provides protection and a permanent solution to the long-term unsatisfactory refugee situation in third countries
- combines the mechanisms of managed migration, individual protection for a refugee and a permanent solution to specific situations and is an expression of solidarity with the regions affected by refugee flows within the framework of a shared burden in relation to refugee issues
- is a tool used only in situations when no other type of permanent solution is possible, i.e., when the members of a refugee group cannot return to the country of their origin for objective reasons and, as a result of their profile, cannot obtain sufficient protection or become integrated in the country where they are located (most often, the country of first refuge)
The Czech Republic has voiced its intent to assist in resolving the global refugee issue and meets all the prerequisites that will help to successfully join other countries that are already implementing resettlement.
In 2008, the government of the Czech Republic approved a document titled “National Resettlement Programme Strategy”, which was submitted by the Minister of the Interior of the Czech Republic and establishes a theoretical framework for implementing a resettlement programme.
The National Resettlement Programme Strategy
- defines the opportunities the Czech Republic has with regard to resettlement from both the theoretical as well as the practical perspectives
- defines the basic mechanisms to be used for implementing a resettlement project throughout all of its phases
The approved conceptual materials also include a pilot resettlement programme, on the basis of which future possibilities and limits will be defined for the Czech Republic in relation to resettlement.
The national resettlement programme started being implemented in autumn 2008 through a pilot resettlement programme for approximately 35 Burmese refugees from Malaysia.
Humanitarian Assistance through Resettlement
The establishment and acceptance of a resettlement strategy was preceded by humanitarian assistance programmes which were implemented by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic in 2005 and 2007 through the resettlement of Uzbek and Cuban refugee groups.
Resettlement of Uzbek Refugees in 2005
In 2005, the Czech Republic was one of several European and non-European countries that offered immediate assistance to a group of Uzbek refugees who were forced to escape from their native land due to the forceful suppression of social unrest in south-eastern Uzbekistan. This assistance, consisting of accepting a group of fifteen refugees in the Czech Republic, was perceived as a humanitarian operation aimed at providing protection to persecuted individuals and was implemented in close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Resettlement of Cuban Refugees in 2007
In 2007, the Czech Republic acting in cooperation with the administration of the United States of America and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), accepted three families of Cuban refugees who had left their homeland due to persecution and prejudicial treatment due to the political or religious convictions of certain family members.
Resettlement of released Cuban political prisoner Mr. Pozada with his family in 2010
In July 2010 the Cuban government informed about their intention to release 52 political prisoners. Subsequently, deputy prime-minister Karel Schwarezenberg announced that the Czech Republic was ready to grant asylum up to ten persons (released political prisoners and their relatives). Ministry of the Interior which is responsible for granting international protection in the Czech Republic than decided, in cooperation with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to resettle and grant asylum to Mr. Pozada and his family – all together 5 persons. Mr. Pozada with his family arrived in the Czech Republic in October 2010.
The Czech Republic perceived this project for the resettlement of Cuban refugees not only as aid specifically targeted at persons whose basic human and civil rights were severely violated, but also as an expression of solidarity with the citizens of a country with an authoritarian regime and a very low level of human rights.
Resettlement of Burmese refugees from Thailand and Malaysia based on the National Resettlement Programme Strategy (2008 – 2010)
Between 2008 and 2010 the Czech Republic on the basis of a National Resettlement Programme Strategy the Czech Republic resettled over 80 Burmese refugees from Thailand and Malaysia. Since the the situation in Burma has been very serious for a long period of time and many refugees who left Burma have faced many tough challenges in the country of their first asylum – mostly Thailand, Malaysia or India, Burma has been selected as a target country for the resettlement programme. As all three above-mentioned countries are not signatories to the Geneva Convention the chances of refugees to reach at least a basic level of protection there are limited. As most of these refugees have an illegal status with no further chance to integrate into local societies, the only way to start normal life is to apply for the resettlement programmes established by the UNHCR and implemented by different countries – i.e. USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland or the Czech Republic.
All resettled Burmese refugees start their new live in the Czech Republic by a six-month intensive integration programme in the Integration Centre managed by the Refugee Facilities Administration of the Ministry of the Interior. During this period the resettled refugees attend intensive courses of the Czech language (400 hours) as well as socio-cultural adaptation courses aiming to help them in adaptation to their new home. After six-months stay in the Integration Centre all the refugees are moved to permanent housing provided by host municipalities where their further integration continues.
The group of Burmese refugees which was resettled in the summer of 2010 is now at the end of their six-month integration programme in the Integration Centre and will move to their new homes in the spring of 2011.
Department of Asylum and Migration Politics, 24.2.2011