The recent cold spell has finally brought snow to the Czech Republic, to the joy of children who are currently enjoying their Christmas holidays. For the homeless, however, freezing weather presents a serious threat, especially at night, when temperatures drop far below zero. City halls and charities around the country have started securing various forms of temporary shelters where the homeless can survive the cold.
With the onset of sub-degree temperatures city halls are securing various forms of night shelter for the homeless. The town of Mladá Boleslav says it is putting up a heated military tent which will be ready for use on Monday night. Prague has room for 400 people in night shelters and for another 200 in heated tents. The city hall said in mid-December that in the event of dire need it would open up the lobby of the Prague metro to give the homeless protection from the cold. There are an estimated 4,000 homeless people in Prague.
Brno Bishop Vojtech Cikrle is hosting a Christmas lunch for socially weaker and socially excluded groups of the population, among them seniors, homeless people and members of the Romany community. The event, which is being held on the premises of St. Jacobs Church in the city centre, has a ten-year-long tradition. Some 170 people have been invited to the event.
Hundreds of members of Prague’s homeless community were served with lunch at the Archbishop's Palace at Prague Castle on Thursday, the second day of the Christmas holiday in the Czech Republic. The visitors were welcomed by the head of Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka, at the lunch, which was being served at the Archbishop's residence for the 10th time.
František Václavek is a homeless man in the Czech Republic who will be spending this Christmas, as many before it, in a shelter. It needn’t have been the case. Four years ago, Václavek won 30 million crowns with a single lottery ticket. But he was wheedled out of it by a couple who used the winnings to buy a luxury home in Prague. A court later sent them to prison but Václavek is still waiting for what is rightfully his.
Around 300 people gathered outside the Office of the Government on Thursday, calling for the Czech Republic to accept Syrian children and their families fleeing the civil war in their country. A similar demonstration was also held in Brno. Western countries have pledged to accept 100,000 refugees from war-stricken Syria, but the Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec recently said the Czech Republic was not ready for an influx of thousands of refugees due to security and technical reasons and would not accept any binding EU quota.
If extreme cold strikes the Czech capital this winter, Prague’s City Hall could ask the transit authority Dopravní podnik, to allow those with nowhere to go to spend the night in entrance vestibules in the city’s metro, news website aktualne.cz reports. Irena Ropková, the city councilor overseeing social issues, stressed the situation as a worst-case scenario. Extreme cold has hit the capital before, putting the homeless at risk of death from exposure. The city councilor said alternatively heated tents, capable of temporarily housing up to 200 people, could be used.
Europe has a moral duty to accept refugees from the Middle East and Africa despite the possible risks involved, Czech priest and theologian Tomáš Halík said in a debate on Czech Television on Sunday. Mr. Halík said the Czech Republic should at least admit injured Syrian children for treatment as a symbolic gesture. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said in Brussels a week ago that the Czech Republic was not ready to take in thousands of Syrian refugees for security and technical reasons and that it would not agree with the possible introduction of obligatory quotas for their acceptance by the EU member states. He did not rule out that the country could take in a small number of refugees, for instance Syrian children in need of medical treatment.
The Social Democratic Party leadership has scrapped one of the party’s local branches over cooperation with extremists. The party’s executive leadership on Saturday voted to abolish the party’s local branch in Duchcov, north Bohemia in reaction to the fact that following local elections in October it formed a coalition with the ultra-right Workers Party of Social Justice. Social Democrat leader and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the party branch had been scrapped for acting at variance with the party’s policy program and its values. Mr. Sobotka said the Social Democrats were opposed to forming a coalition on any level with parties of a racist and fascist character such as the Workers Party of Social Justice.
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