567 refugees to be relocated to Slovenia from Italy and Greece
Another 20 refugees or two to four families will be permanently accommodated in Slovenia, and the country will have the possibility to express reservations regarding the relocation of certain persons.
According to Šefic, 218 refugees will come to Slovenia from Italy and 349 from Greece.
The arrivals will be divided into small groups, with the first group of 40 refugees coming in April, and the last in September 2017, the state secretary said after a government session dedicated to the topic.
Slovenia has notified its intention to give priority to families and unaccompanied minors as part of the EU-sponsored relocation programme, said Šefic.
The refugees waiting for relocation come from countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, the Central African Republic, Swazi, Yemen and Bahrain.
The process of relocation will be managed by the Interior Ministry. It will send an official to Italy and Greece to conduct security checks of the candidates for relocation together with local officials.
Šefic expects good cooperation from both countries involved as well as European agencies. "We are looking to best serve our interests and those of the people being relocated."
An important factor will be finding people who want to come to Slovenia, since it will be more difficult to integrate those who have no interest in coming to Slovenia.
The relocation will include asylum-seekers who have requested protection in Italy and Greece. The procedure for asylum will continue in Slovenia, which will review each request individually.
The relocated persons will be housed in three asylum shelters in Ljubljana and the shelter opened recently for families in Logatec. Another potential location is a centre in Debeli rtič, on the coast, said Šefic.
If the available capacities do not suffice, a government task force will review possibilities for other locations. Šefic said it was likely that new capacities would have to be found.
However, he said the government was ruling out sites in Šenčur and Kidričevo, which had been meant as temporary shelters for those transiting the country. Locals had staged protests against the use of two locations in recent months.
Those who are granted asylum will then be moved to an integration centre in Ljubljana or Maribor. The centres provide support in adjusting the persons to life in Slovenia. They provide welfare and education.
After a year, refugees can then start life independently but with assistance of guardians who continue to oversee their integration and help them in finding work and education. This assistance is granted for a period of five years.
Šefic said the government was looking for NGOs to carry out integration programmes. A total of EUR 100,000 has been set aside for this.