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Czech PM Andrej Babis drops plans to build orphanage in Syria

Prague, Czech Republic – Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced he had abandoned plans for the Czech Republic to build an orphanage in Damascus, the capital of Syria, Radio Prague reported.

One year ago, Babis had vowed to take part in the construction of an orphanage in Syria. According to the initial plan, a special foundation was to be set up to build the orphans center that could have hosted up to 50 children. The Czech PM had made the announcement after meeting with representatives from the Syrian branch of the Red Crescent.

A few months earlier, Babis had caused an uproar when, dismissing an opposition politician’s proposal to accept 50 Syrian orphans stranded in Greece, he lashed out: “Why should we accept them? We also have orphans in the Czech Republic who must be preparing for life. I went into politics mainly to look after Czech citizens. Why should we be caring for Syrian orphans?”

Reversing his decision earlier this week, the billionaire Czech Prime Minister and second-richest man in the country instead said he would answer local authorities’ call for humanitarian aid by sending 500,000 Kc (slightly less than 20,000 €) from his own personal account.

According to Radio Prague, Babis claimed that “finances to organizations helping migrants were needed much more” than building a centre for orphans in Syria.

His announcement comes a few days after the Czech Republic refused to accept 40 child migrants from camps in Greece. During a television interview, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said that Athens didn’t hand over a list of the children and that his country would not open its doors to a group of 18-year-old Afghans who could represent a security risk.

Main photo credit: Yasin Akgul/AFP