New online rules pose challenges to Ukrainian refugees

As of the start of July, refugees have to apply for support electronically, but many lack email or usable credentials. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 03.07.2023 16:40:00 (updated on 03.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

An influx of refugees from Ukraine has presented challenges for the Center for Foreigners of the South Moravian Region, as they grapple with difficulties in completing the online application for humanitarian benefits.

Alena Krejčí, the director of the center, reported a surge in refugee arrivals from Ukraine starting on Monday morning. Under the revised guidelines, which came into effect on Saturday, the center observed a relatively calm weekend, but the influx intensified on the first working day.

Previously, many clients would personally submit their applications for support. However, with the new electronic processing system in place, numerous refugees are encountering obstacles in accessing the online application. Lack of bank identification, citizen credentials, and even basic communication tools such as email, smartphones, or SIM cards with Czech numbers are hampering their progress.

To address these challenges, the center is providing assistance to facilitate their visit to a Czech POINT location, where they can receive guidance and set up the necessary arrangements.

Despite the expectation that refugees would be adequately informed about the changes, Krejčí acknowledged that some were caught off guard. Additionally, she highlighted a substantial influx of individuals seeking assistance at the Regional Assistance Center for Helping Ukraine (KACPU) in Brno, managed by the Ministry of the Interior.

"But we want to calm the clients down. They all came from the end of the month, but their applications will not be considered under the new rules until after July 18," Krejčí said. The center set up a special line over the weekend in connection with the changes to law called Lex Ukraine. About 60 people called there in two days. Most asked specifically about filling out the online form to apply for humanitarian benefits.

Rule changes and their impact

Effective from July 1, the revised rules pertaining to refugee support have come into effect. The state will cover emergency accommodation expenses for five months for refugees who are employable. Subsequently, individuals will be responsible for covering these costs or arranging alternative arrangements. Notably, vulnerable groups such as children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities will continue to receive free accommodation.

Moreover, the solidarity contribution previously provided to individuals hosting new arrivals in their homes or vacant apartments has ceased as of July. Moving forward, only refugee households with incomes below the subsistence minimum, along with housing costs stipulated by the government at CZK 3,000 per person per month for registered apartments and CZK 2,400 for other accommodations, will be eligible for humanitarian benefits.

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