30,000 Unaccompanied Child Refugees In The Czech Republic, Says Human Rights Commissioner
Those leaving Ukraine for the Czech Republic alone are mostly youths over 15. Photo credit: Freepik.
Prague, Feb 28 (CTK) – Around 30,000 Ukrainian children are in the Czech Republic unaccompanied by adults, according to the government’s human rights commissioner Klara Simackova Laurencikova, who is the national coordinator for the adaptation and integration of refugees.
Some of these children and youth live in children’s homes, she told CTK, adding that Czech authorities and organisations should be focusing more on their support and integration.
Experts recommend ensuring places at schools for these young people, and broadening the availability of Czech language education and leisure-time activities.
According to a survey by the PAQ Research agency, 46% of Ukrainian youths attended secondary schools and 90% of Ukrainian children went to primary schools in the Czech Republic at the end of last year.
“At present, we register some 30,000 children unaccompanied by adults in the Czech Republic,” said Simackova Laurencikova. “We perceive this group as especially vulnerable. Although a certain part of these children will gradually become adults, they have no bonds to the community, no broader family, no one who could be their natural support network in case of problems. We must stay in touch with this group, being prepared to offer them support and assistance if need be.”
Those leaving Ukraine for the Czech Republic alone are mostly youths over 15. They are granted temporary protection visas on their arrival, which grants them access to education and health care.
Social workers from the child protection section register unaccompanied minors directly on arrival, collecting data about their accommodation and providing aid to them based on their condition and age.
Social workers received training last spring from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to work with child refugees. Some NGOs are also focusing on helping them.
Some of these Ukrainian youths live in temporary homes, others are staying in families, but a number of them have ended up in children’s homes, Simackova Laurencikova said.
“Some of them were accommodated in school facilities or institutional care. They can stay there until they turn 18. Then they should be provided the same aid as those leaving these facilities and get some financial support for the start as well as contacts to subsequent services and social workers,” the commissioner said.
She added that she would like to debate the issue with the Ministry of Education, which is responsible for these homes.
This group should be better informed about the possible risks, in order to not become victims of labour exploitation or sexual abuse, and should know how to defend themselves against unethical treatment, how to find jobs safely and where to seek help for their independent lives, she noted.
The movement of this group of young people around the country should be monitored intensively to learn whether they end up in vulnerable situations, she said, adding that she would like to consult young people coming from Ukraine on the possibility of providing such information.