April 7, 2016 / 1:47 PM / in 2 years

Czech government ends program to take in Iraqi Christians

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic will halt a program to take in 153 Christian refugees from Iraq after some of those who have arrived tried to move to Germany and others returned home, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said on Thursday.

The country agreed in December to take in 37 families of Iraqi Christians voluntarily under a special program. So far, 89 people have arrived.

But the program suffered when 25 of them took a bus to Germany on Saturday, where they were stopped immediately after crossing the border and returned to the Czech Republic. One family has decided to return to Iraq.

“It is impossible to support a project that is not meeting its objectives,” Chovanec said on his Twitter account.

The Czech Republic has seen only a trickle of the migrants flooding into Europe from the Middle East and beyond in the past year. Both the government and public opinion strongly oppose taking in a large number of them.

Last year, the Czech Republic opposed plans to distribute 160,000 asylum-seekers seekers among European Union member states. On Wednesday, it again rejected any quota system for distributing migrants among the EU countries.

The country of 10.5 million recorded 1,525 asylum applications last year. It had granted protection to 71 people, Interior Ministry data showed.

Several thousand people, mostly Muslims, were detained while trying to pass through the Czech territory to Germany last year.

Reporting by Robert Muller, editing by Larry King

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