“We already know today that this is the fastest wave of migration in the history of our continent,” says Robert Stojanov, a migration expert at the Mendel University Faculty of Business and Economics. He offers several other insights into the Czech approach to refugees from the war in Ukraine. Photo: MENDELU archive.

Czech Republic, March 15 (BD) – According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the total number of Ukrainians fleeing from the war in their country has exceeded three million. Until the outbreak of the war, the Ukrainian diaspora abroad totalled 6.1 million people, and this number has increased by 50% in less than three weeks. The current wave of Ukrainian refugees to the Czech Republic is exceeding the prepared capacity in several regions of the country; there are currently about 200,000 Ukrainian refugees.

“At the same time, it is clear that the refugee wave will continue to grow,” said Stojanov. “If the state wants to prevent chaos and people living under bridges or in abandoned buildings, it should prepare facilities for more than 250,000 refugees. The Czech government will also most likely have to make a humble request to share refugees with Western EU members.”

Numbers of Ukrainian refugees as of March 15, 2022

Country / Number of refugees (in thousands)

Poland1,808
Romania453
Moldova337
Hungary264
Slovakia213
Russia143
Belarus1.5

Source: UNHCR (2022)

“The [European] Union will perceive this as an apology for the behaviour of previous Czech governments and the  Czech president, who previously strongly opposed this system of solidarity. Next time, Czech officials should be more humble before asking for help. As we can see, karma works,” says Stojanov.

Hand in hand with this, it will be necessary to explain to Czech people that the arrival of Ukrainians in the country should be seen more as a benefit for Czech society and for themselves, according to Stojanov.

Ukrainians Can Help Fill Thousands of Job Vacancies

According to Stojanov, successfully explaining to Czechs that Ukrainian migrants are a benefit has three dimensions. The first is the short-term humanitarian view, which is very important as it has facilitated a change in Czech public opinion towards migration. Today, Czech society understands the needs of refugees, understands what war means, because it can watch it live. “The conflict in Ukraine is much more visible for the Czechs than, for example, the war in Syria. It must be said that the increase in energy, fuel and inflation prices in the Czech Republic have nothing to do with the arrival of Ukrainian immigrants,” said Stojanov.

From a long-term economic point of view, Ukrainian migration to the Czech Republic can be a win-win strategy for everyone. “We will get a fairly qualified and young generation of people relatively quickly, which will help us solve the problem of an ageing population, partly also pensions and, above all, a lack of labour. Staying with us will also help Ukrainians. In addition to being safe and secure, they will receive a better education for their children, more accessible medical care, and there are other economic opportunities and a social system to which they will also contribute,” said Stojanov. The Czech Labour Office is currently reporting  342,935 free job vacancies.

Clear Dark Side

According to Stojanov, the third view of the matter is moral. “It is a struggle between freedom, the ability to make free and democratic decisions on the one hand, and an almost absolutist dictatorship, occupation and dependence on the other. There is a clear dark side, i.e. the Russian regime, who attacked a country that did not threaten them, perhaps only by their desire for free choice,” said Stojanov.

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