The Czech government is seeking ways to back a NGO´s offer to transfer 153 Iraqis, who face religious persecution at home, to the Czech Republic in a situation where the Iraqis have been selected for their being Christians, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Thursday.
The potential immigrants, chosen by the Generation 21 Fund, a Christian NGO that is rather unknown to the public, are exclusively Christians and Yazidis, i.e. Kurds with a cult of their own that is partly based on Christian traditions, LN writes.
If it nodded to the offer, the Czech government would hardly be able to explain why it plans to save only these selected groups.
The Fund´s offer to ensure and finance the transfer, if the government gave its consent, is unprecedented among Czech NGOs. It would enable Prague to boast of having accepted people who flee from a Middle East war, LN writes.
The Czech Interior Ministry, which is to submit the plan to the government, is now pondering on how to confirm Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka´s preliminary support to the plan and, simultaneously, not to be criticised for selecting immigrants based on their religion, the paper writes.
"We are ready to pay for everything, including a charter flight to the Czech Republic. We would also secure the refugees´ stay in families in the Czech Republic," LN quotes Jan Talafant, head of the Iraqi families salvation project, is quoted as saying.The state would only have to ensure security checks of the migrants, the paper writes.
The generous offer has puzzled the Interior Ministry. First, the Generation 21 Fund is a group that is unknown and has not operated on the humanitarian market before.
On the other hand, the Fund has established good connections. It has negotiated with Tomas Haisman, head of the ministry´s asylum and migration policy department.
The Fund representatives have also met Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and even PM Sobotka (both Social Democrats, CSSD)."Everybody hailed the project as a positive story that could be well promoted in media," an official who attended the meeting in Sobotka´s office, told LN on condition of anonymity.
The Fund´s lobbying has been a success thanks to its ties with the junior government Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), mainly KDU-CSL deputy chairman Ondrej Benesik, the paper writes.
However, the plan may still finally fall through because it would be difficult for the government to explain its choice of Christian refugees only, LN continues.
Sobotka has "clearly told the people from the Fund that the cabinet cannot prefer only certain religions of migrants, as this is politically unacceptable," the source told LN.
The emphasis on the salvation of Christians is crucial for the Generation 21 Fund."We strive to save at least some people from the present-era Holocaust," Talafant said.
Another obstacle to the government´s approval of the plan is that Prague would not be able to include the chosen 153 Iraqis among the 400 migrants whom it promised to voluntarily accept from refugee camps in Iraq and Jordan in July, the daily continues.
From the point of view of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the chosen Iraqis are no refugees. Most of them come from the Mosul area. Since they have not left Iraq, their legal status is that of internally resettled inhabitants, LN writes.
The "positive story" seems to get complicated in a situation where the government itself fails to select suitable migrants for the Czech state to accept, the paper adds.