Monday, 11 December 2017

Number of lone underage refugees rising in Czech Republic

ČTK |
24 August 2015

Prague, Aug 22 (CTK) - The Czech Education Ministry must deal with a rising number of lone underage refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan aged from 15 to 18 years, who fled their countries alone or lost contact with their families during their long journey, daily Pravo writes Saturday.

Under Czech law, people under 18 are considered underage and such refugees cannot be sent to detention facilities for adults.

Pravo writes that the ministry had to establish foreigner sections in two children's institutions, in Prague and southern Moravia, where a few dozen underage refugees were placed lately.

About 20 ended up in a children's home in Prague-Prosek.

They underwent a medical check-up, but none of them was ill so far. They can overcome the language barrier thanks to interpreters and a language software, including basis phrases in Czech.

"They behave decently, we have no problems with them," the home's director Patrik Matousu told Pravo.

However, the problems emerge when they are allowed to leave the institution's gates after two weeks as many of them run away, Pravo writes.

It adds that a half of the 20 inmates in the Prague home escaped and only three were brought back by the police, Pravo writes.

It says none of the boys asked for international protection. They said in interviews they would not like to stay in the Czech Republic and they often wanted to get to their families in the West.

"Some of them are travelling alone since their families sent them to relatives or they were divided during the trip. Most of them came to us via Hungary," Matousu said.

The Ministry has also met with the cases of adult refugees passing themselves off as underage to secure a softer regime, Education Ministry spokeswoman Jitka Jezkova confirmed to Pravo.

Most of the clients claim they are 15 to 18 years old when it is hard to estimate the real age, the paper notes.

Doctors sometimes reveal such tricks during check-ups. However, if the real age of young refugees is not clearly proved, they are considered underage.

Their age can be determined by a wrist X-ray. However, the pictures must be assessed by experts in a special lab or at a foreigner police station in Breclav south Moravia, Pravo writes.

Some of the refuges refuse to undergo such examination. They are labelled adults then. If the result is unclear, is is assessed in favour of the refugee, Pravo writes, citing the ministry's document.

The underage enjoy certain advantages compared with adult migrants since they need not be sent to refugee detention camps. They are placed in children's educational facilities instead.

The Interior Ministry allocates a guardian to them who is following the interviews, finding out information about the children from their country of origin and mediating legal representation, Pravo writes.

Another guardian "for residence" is assigned by the court to help the underage foreigner who asked for international protection. It need not be a Czech clerk, but it can also be a relative or another close person, Pravo adds.

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