Natisni vsebino

Slovenia urged to make greater effort to help refugees

20.06.2016 10:42
Category: work and news

Slovenia has received 567 petitions for asylum this year, more than double the figure last year, with 330 asylum seekers currently in the country, shows data released by the Interior Ministry on World Refugee Day. On the occasion, NGOs urged the authorities to accept more refugees and to see to their integration.

Despite the increase in the number of asylum seekers following the migration wave at the beginning of this year and late last year, the figures remain low compared to the EU countries that are target destinations of refugees.

Slovenia has this year granted international protection to 34 persons, 27 of whom got refugee status and seven the status of subsidiary protection. The largest group were the nationals of Iraq (12), with the rest coming from Syria (8), Afghanistan (6), Kazakhstan (5) and Iran (3).

By the end of May, the country had received asylum requests from 68 unaccompanied underage migrants. Currently 37 refugee children are enrolled in primary schools, with another 16 underage youths enrolled in primary education for adults, and two more waiting to enrol, shows data from the Education Ministry.

Of the 277 applications for asylum received in 2015, Slovenia granted international protection to 45 petitioners. The year before, it granted asylum or subsidiary protection to 44 in response to 385 applications.

Between 2002 and 2005, the number of asylum petitions rose from 640 to 1,674, but then the trend reversed and the figure bottomed out at 202 in 2009. Until that year, most asylum seekers had come from the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, while since most have come from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Commenting on the figures, the Interior Ministry appealed for tolerance and for efforts to include refugees in society, pledging it would continue to encourage schemes to involve them at the local level, with the help of its own and EU funds.

Releasing its annual report for 2015, the UN refugee agency said that the number of people displaced by conflict globally was at the highest level ever recorded. An estimated 65.3 million people were either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced at the end of 2015, five million more than a year before.

Addressing an event in Ljubljana on the occasion, the acting head of the UNHCR office in Slovenia William Ejalu described the figures as truly alarming. He called for joint action to solve the global problem. "To stop the flow of refugees, it is necessary to stop wars."

He said he was aware that after the closure of the Balkan migration route, many Slovenians no longer deemed mass migration such a big issue, but the figures released today should convince them of the contrary.

Human rights NGOs urged state officials to see to it that Slovenia take its share of responsibility for refugees, to accept and grant protection to a greater number of refugees and to give them a chance of a decent life.

Slovenia has promised to accept 20 refugees from non-EU member states under an EU resettlement plan, which the NGOs believe is insufficient. They also believe that the relocation of 567 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to Slovenia is proceeding too slowly.

Slovenia's Human Rights Ombudsman Vlasta Nussdorfer too reminded state authorities of the obligation to take care of all those seeking international protection and those who have had such a status granted, in particular unaccompanied underage refugees.

"I hope and want to believe the people of Slovenia are mature enough to accept those in distress and to help them heal their wounds," the ombudsman said, calling on the government to shape policies contributing to world peace and the promotion of human rights.

Meanwhile, the Slovenian Philantrophy appealed to the government to remove the fence on the border with Croatia, which was erected to stop migrants, and to take measures to integrate refugees in the Slovenian society, devolving part of the responsibility to local communities.

World Refugee Day is also being marked with an event in Prešeren Square, while Ljubljana Castle will be flooded in blue light.

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