In Prague’s Jinonice neighborhood, the Waltrovka office complex quiets down after the workday has ended, with few illuminated windows remaining. However, a group of Ukrainian refugees lingers outside, waiting for Tereza Matonohova, a headhunter who volunteers her time to assist refugees in integrating into Czech society, as per a report from DW. Matonohova has arranged an information and language class, which will be held in a room provided by a company she contacted through her professional network. The session will cover topics such as finding housing and employment, and the refugees will receive language instruction from an experienced teacher paid for with Czech government integration funds.
According to Tereza Matonohova, knowledge of the Czech language is essential for finding a decently paid job in the Czech labor market. Matonohova has organized evening classes for refugees, covering topics such as housing, job searching, and language learning. With almost all of the class participants have found work, Matonohova’s efforts have proven effective.
Thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers like Matonohova, the Czech Republic has been able to accommodate nearly half a million war refugees since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over a year ago. This makes the country a leader in refugee accommodation, proportional to its population of 10 million residents.
Despite some refugees returning home, more than 100,000 Ukrainians have found employment in the Czech Republic and 90% of Ukrainian children are enrolled in local schools, making up roughly 5 per cent of the country’s child population. On the one-year anniversary of the first arrival of Ukrainian war refugees, Interior Minister Vit Rakusan praised the country’s successful integration efforts, stating that the Czech Republic had managed to take in nearly half a million refugees without straining its healthcare and education systems.
The minister attributed this success to the country’s effective admission mechanisms that enabled refugees to access the labor market and seize opportunities for integration. Despite the success of the Czech Republic’s refugee integration program, there are still critics who argue that the government is prioritizing Ukrainian refugees over its own citizens. Andrej Babis, leader of the opposition ANO party and a recent presidential candidate, is among those making this claim, stating that the government is neglecting the needs of Czech citizens in order to assist the refugees.
However, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavsky has refuted these accusations, pointing out that the expenditures for the refugee program are a small fraction of the overall budget, and that the program has been a success both for the refugees and for Czech society as a whole. Minister of the Interior Vit Rakusan acknowledges that the integration process has not been without its challenges, but asserts that the country has passed the “stress test” and now has a system that works.
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