The state knows nothing about many refugees, a SIM card census suggests

Jan Handrejch

According to an anonymous SIM card count, about 350 000 people arrived from Ukraine at the end of last week, Pavla Jakoubková, a spokesperson for the General Directorate of Firefighters, said. Registration, which requires the location of the refugees, does not mean that the state has an overview of the refugees. It does not know anything about the roughly 100,000 people.

Prague City Hall and individual town halls have no idea where all the refugees have ended up. According to Jakoubková, the addresses of those accommodated are tracked through regional assistance centers, and they account for about one-tenth of the total number of arrivals.

“We assume that the rest of those registered have secured accommodation independently,” Jakoubková said. According to the government’s decision, if a refugee refuses a place offered by an assistance center, they lose the right to have the state help with housing.

Daily updates on the number of children

Refugees are obliged to register within 30 days, and if they live in hostels or hotels, their accommodation provider handles this, according to Renata Grecmanová, a spokeswoman for the foreigners’ police. The extent to which the obligation is fulfilled and how well the addresses match has not yet been ascertained. 

“We receive information from the Interior Ministry – it is mainly about the number of children, updated daily,” said Jiří Hannich, a spokesperson for Prague 6, adding that about 1 500 children have settled in their town. Prague 7 is trying to create its list of contacts, according to spokesperson Martin Vokus, but can not retrieve them from the Interior Ministry database.

“There are no such detailed summaries available that would, for example, record where specific people are staying. We can find out from there, for example, the age composition of refugees in Prague 7, among other things, and it serves us in planning the necessary capacities in schools and kindergartens, ” Vokuš said.