The Slovenia Times

Asylum centre overflowing

The Ljubljana asylum centre. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Slovenia's sole asylum centre, based in Ljubljana but with a branch in Logatec, is overflowing as the number of migrants crossing into the country continues to rise. It is currently at several times capacity and many migrants are accommodated in hallways or in housing containers brought in to alleviate the situation.

The main building in the Ljubljana borough of Vič is designed for 350 people but currently over 900 are housed there. Another 350 are in Logatec, which is primarily intended for vulnerable groups such as minors, three times the number that had been designated as acceptable by the local community.

"In Vič we've expanded capacity with housing containers and set up a tent. But these are just temporary solutions," Katarina Štrukelj, the director of the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants, told the Slovenian Press Agency.

The increased number of people in Logatec is temporary as asylum seekers that would normally be housed in Vič are sent there.

Police statistics show more than 36,000 migrants were apprehended in the first eight months of the year, more than triple the number of a year ago.

The vast majority stay in Slovenia for only a short time and leave the country before their asylum applications can be processed.

Štrukelj said those who request asylum stay in Slovenia an average of 22 days, while those who are still waiting to submit an application stay here for only ten days on average.

The situation in Vič has been described as "unbearable" by the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman, which said that the large number of people there live in inappropriate conditions.

Up to six persons are housed in containers that measure under 15 square metres, and many sleep in the hallways, which the Ombudsman said had a negative impact on the safety of asylum seekers as well as staff.

The Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants has tried looking for additional capacities but has been unsuccessful.

Even if they manage to find land where new accommodation could be built, they encounter resistance from local communities, Štrukelj said.

Illegal migration is turning into a hot political issue in the country and has been arousing anti-migrant sentiment.

Slovenia has been facing a surge in illegal migration in particular after Croatia joined the Schengen zone. Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar talked to his Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović over the phone this week, encouraging Croatia to step up the Schengen border control.

The largest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS), urged the government to crack down on migrations by deploying the army on the border with Croatia, keep rather than remove the border fence, and agree on joint patrols with Croatia.

Visiting the border area on 9 September, the minister promised the locals that the fence would remain standing and policing was being stepped up.


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