Kurdish asylum seekers demonstrate outside govt office

13 December 2010

Prague, Dec 10 (CTK) – About thirty people, mainly Kurdish applicants for Czech asylum, gathered outside the Government Office Friday to protest against lengthy asylum proceedings and bad conditions in the refugee camp in Kostelec nad Orlici, east Bohemia.

Some of the asylum seekers have been waiting for the Czech authorities’ decision for five years now, protest’s organiser Rashid Khalil told CTK.

The applicants have formulated their complaints in a letter and a petition addressed to Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) and Interior Minister Radek John (Public Affairs, VV).

In the letter they ask for the conditions in the refugee camp to be improved and for the asylum proceedings to be shortened.

They express concern about the human rights violation faced by the Kurdish asylum applicants in the Kostelec nad Orlici refugee camp.

The Czech Interior Ministry has told CTK that it lately did not record any complaints from Kurds on international protection proceedings or conditions of their stay in the asylum center.

“The persons from among the asylum seekers who protested Friday received in the past weeks negative decisions relating to their asylum requests mostly submitted in the Czech Republic,” the Interior Ministry said.

“They filed legal complaints against the decisions now examined in court. As a result, the Interior Ministry has no influence on the outcome of the proceedings whatsoever,” it added.

The humanitarian situation of the seven families staying in the refugee camp is very bad. Living conditions in the camp are unsuitable and undignified. A six-member family stays in a single small room, for example, they write.

Khalil said the Kurdish asylum seekers mainly come from Syria and Turkey. In Turkey they seek autonomy for Kurds.

The inappropriately long asylum proceedings in the Czech Republic were recently also highlighted by Eva Hola, lawyer from the Organisation for Help Refugees.

The number of refugees who apply for Czech asylum have been declining since 2004, but some have been waiting for the decision for many years, Hola said.

The regular period for Czech authorities to handle an asylum application is three months, but the applicants often receive official letters extending the deadline.

In 2007, 1,878 people applied for Czech asylum, in 2008 the number of applicants was 1,656 and in 2009 it was 1,258.

The number of foreigners who were granted asylum has been declining as well, from 268 in 2006 to 191 in 2007 and 157 in 2008.

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