Refugees: People are afraid of things they do not know

Irena Krasnicka

Irena Krasnicka

By Ole Aabenhus
We in the Czech government disagreed with the EU agenda on how to react to the influx of refugees – but only on one point, says Irena Krasnicka, a key person in the shaping of her country's refugee policy planning, in an interview with,

Irena Krasnicka is a Czech diplomat and special Envoy on Migration. She is also former director of the Diplomatic Academy of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She spoke at the My!Europe conference at the University of Pardubice April 7-8, 2016, where she drew the over-all perspective on immigration and surprised many with an open and analytic view on migration and refugees, in contrast to the anti-refugee attitude you often meet in the Czech republic, especially in the press.

We disagreed with the forced distribution, and we did three pages of questions for the Commission on the issue. The refugees should have free movement, otherwise we would have to abolish Schengen – the most precious thing in the European cooperation, she says. But the answers were not very satisfactory, she explains in this video clip from the interview.

Fear and dignity
Today, Europe has approx. 1 million refugees. This is not a problem in itself, says Irena Krasnicka, the problem is the way the refugees come, and the mafia-type crime that smuggles refugees into Europa. So we have to change the way, people come.

Her suggestion is that we have to set up centres, where one could apply for visa – for working visa or humanitarian visa. And to help people go back once the stability reigns again – because this is where people have dignity.


But why are people here in the Czech Republic so afraid, I ask. Well, is the answer, people are more afraid of what they don't know, than things they know. But the Czechs have proved to be quite open-minded to refugees from Bosnia – including Muslims – and from e.g. Vietnam.


Rational solution?
Basically, the Czechs have good hearts, she insists, and she has an example from her time as a Consul General in Mumbai, India. But the real issue is for now to reduce the level fear of Islam, of terrorism, so we can deal with the refugee problem in a rational way.

Editor's fact box:
Refugees in the Czech Republic

Still, the Czech Republic has received next to no refugees from the Middle East.

Shortly before the time of this interview, 123 Iraqi Christians came to the Czech Republic, brought by a Christian Foundation. In late April the government accepted to take 7 refugees from Greek camps as a first part of the 2.691 refugees allotted to them under the EU reallocation agenda.

Shortly after their arrival, the Iraqis decided they wanted to go to Germany, and as this was not possible they went home.

Of the 7 that were accepted under the EU quota system, three ran away from their camp in Greece, apparently because they did not see the Czech Republic as their country of destination

Today, the rate of foreign inhabitants in the Czech republic is 4 per cent - mostly Slovaks, but also refugees from the Balkan, from the Ukraine and from Vietnam.

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