Credit: JMK

Hundreds of Vulnerable Ukrainian Refugees in Prague To Lose Free Accommodation

Based on a proposed amendment to the so-called “Lex Ukraine”, even vulnerable refugees will have to arrange their own housing in the Czech Republic as of September, which may leave hundreds of Ukrainian refugees in Prague on the streets, warns a document given to Prague councillors for a debate on Monday.

As of the end of April, 1,141 Ukrainian refugees with the status of vulnerable persons, who have not been subject to the 150-day time limit for free accommodation until now, were living in state-funded housing in the capital. As they are dependent only on the state humanitarian benefit, which is now currently CZK 2,500 to 5,000 per month, they may not be able to cover their own accommodation as of September.

According to the document, there were 90,636 refugees from Ukraine with temporary protection in Prague as of 26 May this year, 58% of whom were women, and a further quarter children under 18.

The vast majority of refugees arrange and pay for their own housing.

Vulnerable persons include, for example, people with disabilities, those providing full-time care for children under six, pregnant women, students, and seniors; half of them are children under 18. They are only granted this status if they apply for a humanitarian benefit.

Ukrainians with temporary protection can now live in free emergency accommodation for a standard maximum of 150 days. Vulnerable persons are exempt from this limit, but as of September, an amendment to the law will reduce the period of accommodation to a maximum of 90 days without exceptions. Refugees will have to leave their emergency accommodation after the 90-day period, and in agreement with the accommodation provider, move to a standard rental and pay for their housing.

This may be a problem, because vulnerable refugees are only entitled to a humanitarian allowance and cannot apply for Czech social benefits, such as housing and care ones, according to the Prague document. Even though the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs plans to increase the humanitarian benefit, it may not be enough.

The material for the City Council also stated that the current capacity of social services in the capital is insufficient to meet the projected demand, also taking into account the uneven concentration of vulnerable refugees.

Yesterday, the Chamber of Deputies discussed another amendment to the lex Ukraine, under which the law would not have to be amended annually to extend temporary protection for Ukrainian war refugees, but would be extended automatically according to an EU decision. In addition, economically self-sufficient Ukrainians would be able to obtain special long-term residence in the Czech Republic under the draft proposal.

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