Discarded children’s toys and a grill show that the soccer booths right behind the sideline of the cut-up field in the Praha-Vinoř district currently serve a different purpose. About twenty Ukrainian refugees have been accommodated here since spring.
“The locker rooms are about to be demolished. We quickly repaired them, built showers, kitchens and so on,” explained the mayor of Vinoře, Michal Biskup, who temporarily extended the life of the building, which was no longer suitable even for football players. Among among other things, other refugees were admitted to a two-generation villa undergoing renovation.
However, the city district is currently deciding what will happen to the refugees next. Both things – both cabins and the villa – are arranged by October.
Similarly, at the end of October, about thirty refugees were due to leave the camp by the river Berounka in the town of Řevnice, southwest of Prague, with a population of about 4,000. “They found out in three months that they had to move for the winter. Of course, you can’t heat it here with direct heaters,” Štefan Oršoš, the owner of the camp, told Seznam Zprávám, adding that it was left up to he himself told the refugees to find shelter in the area.
“I call their attention here every day,” says owner Štefan Oršoš. However, according to her, women who have accommodated children have not taken it too seriously.
“Most people want to stay here and they also have children here at school,” said the camp owner, adding that even the town hall in Revnica does not know what to do with the situation. “In the city, they asked what would happen to them, and I told them I didn’t know,” Štefan Oršoš recounted.
My heart is still in Ukraine
The Prague-Vinoř district has taken in about 120 Ukrainian refugees since spring, but in the summer almost 40 people returned to their homeland or traveled elsewhere.
According to local coordinator Kateřina Hájková, most of the remaining refugees still haven’t decided what they will do during the fall.
Czechia does not know how many refugees actually remain in the country
About 40 accepted refugees left Vinoř in the summer, most of those accommodated gradually returned to their homeland from Český Dub.
Officially, however, Czechia only tracks the number of people who have received residence permits since the start of the war – not adjusting for repatriation and refugee transfers to other countries.
“So up to ten percent are the people who know that they will stay here because they will never return, or they have decided that this is where they will see the future. Then their motivation for complete integration is greater. Others are the head here and the heart in Ukraine. They are waiting for the situation to calm down and come back,” the winery coordinator said.
In reality, this attitude causes a “challenge” in the city district itself – to move 22 people from temporary spaces to cabins and an unrenovated villa. We managed to arrange alternative accommodation in a hotel in Vysočany with the municipality of Prague. However, only half of the refugees agreed to relocate.
“We the mayor held a meeting for the people, where we showed them the place, explained to them that some of our things are limited in time. And we tried to motivate them to take advantage of the offer and move of the municipality. Some took advantage of it, but far from all,” said Kateřina Hájková.
“They’re seasonal cabins. Football isn’t played in minus twenty. So if I take our average temperature, the boiler will turn on the heating for a few people in October. But it’s definitely not habitable at all and in minus ten. That’s not possible,” added mayor Michal Biskup.
They have a job, so no pay until the end of the year
They also housed refugees in the town of Český Dub in the Liberec Region in a recreational summer building near a swimming pool. However, Mayor Jiří Miler described that the situation resolved itself during the spring and early summer, as the refugees returned to their homeland. “They were mothers with children and their families came to pick them up,” said Jiří Miler.
In České Dub, the town hall continues to care for nine of the original 35 refugees. Even here, however, the host families received an ultimatum. They have free living in city apartments until the end of this year.
“The municipality is not losing money, we receive money from the state, but what does it mean when, for example, a man works, children go to school to live for free,” said the mayor, Jiří Miler, directly mentioned that the city is interested in the particular situation of families, who stayed in Český Dub and started working.
On the contrary, in Vinoř they want to proceed more slowly with refugees housed in city apartments. “They agreed that once they find a job, we will introduce them to the rental. But small. First, maybe one thousand crowns, then two thousand, then three thousand – and if they want to be here next year, we will set them at 109 crowns per square meter,” said Vinořa mayor Michal Biskup, and adding that it’s still about a quarter of the price compared to commercial rent.
According to a study published in August, about a third of Ukrainian refugees are still living in non-residential areas in the Czech Republic.