Mongolians in the Czech Republic
|Regions with significant populations|
|Prague, Blansko, Plzeň|
Mongolians in the Czech Republic form one of the country's smaller ethnic groups. Workers from Mongolia comprised 3.6% of the foreign workforce as of 2008[update], making them the third-largest non-European Union group behind Ukrainians and Vietnamese, and the fifth-largest group overall. By 2011 they had declined both in numbers and in relative size to other foreign populations, having been surpassed by Russians and Moldovans.
In 2005, only 1,900 Mongolians lived in the Czech Republic, according to the local police; by 31 March 2006, that figure had grown slightly to 2,607 individuals, including 2,051 workers and 213 businessmen. The following year would see significant growth in the Mongolian population, which nearly tripled to 7,515 individuals by June 2007. As of July 2008, an additional thirty to forty Mongolians were arriving in the Czech Republic for work every week, many via train. Their population had been expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace, since Mongolia, along with Vietnam, was chosen in 2008 as one of the nations to supply manpower to the Czech Republic to replace North Korean guest workers, whose visas were not renewed after international concern that their wages were being confiscated by the North Korean government and used to support their nuclear programme.
However, at the beginning of 2009, the Czech government decided they would no longer grant employment visas to Mongolian or Vietnamese labourers, in response to an economic downturn which had left 380,000 Czech citizens without jobs. Visa issuance officially halted on 1 April that year; the government stated it would resume at some unspecified future date. They also announced a plan to offer €500 and a free plane ticket back to Ulan Bator for any Mongolian workers on their territory who lost their jobs; a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry stated that the plan was intended to prevent unemployed foreign workers from remaining in the country illegally. From February to April, Mongolians formed 66% of the total 1,345 foreigners who took advantage of such offers from the Czech government. In May 2011, a group of 90 Mongolians sued the Czech government over the restricted access to work visas, and in particular for refusing to process their applications online through the Visapoint system.
Demography and distribution
Aside from the community in Prague, there about 500 Mongolians are also employed at a steering wheel-cover firm in the South Moravian Region town of Blansko, and a few hundred more in Plzeň. In March 2007, those in Blansko became the target of protests organised by the right-wing National Pride group, of whom one was arrested for giving a Hitler Salute. Yet despite the tensions between the Mongolians and the citizens of Blansko, few local people actually participated in those protests; the demonstrators were described as being Neo-Nazis from other parts of the Czech Republic.
Human trafficking and illegal immigration from Mongolia to the Czech Republic are growing problems. Mongolians make up one of the larger groups of illegal migrants detained at the border with Slovakia. Previously, Ukraine had been one of the main sources of illegal foreign workers for the Czech Republic, but many had moved on westward to other countries of the European Union, lured by higher wages; Mongolians have been one of the main groups which has replaced them. The Czech government are working with the Mongolian government in efforts to control the illegal migration, in a programme similar to those they already operated with the governments of Moldova, Armenia, and Ukraine, which combined education in the source country about the danger of abuse that foreign workers face, and increased enforcement in the destination country.
There are fifteen Czech work agencies with permits from the Czech government to import workers from Mongolia. However, only two such agencies have permits from the Mongolian government to recruit on their territory; many thus operate without authorisation. This lack of registration is the reason why Czech government figures consistently show a large number of migrants from Mongolia—such as a total of 2,000 in 2007—while Mongolian government statistics show just a small number of workers leaving their country with the Czech Republic as their destination.
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