7,000 Ukrainian refugees seek protection in Slovenia

Brussels – Some 7,000 refugees from Ukraine have so far applied for temporary protection in Slovenia, Franc Kangler, a state secretary at the Interior Ministry, told reporters during a session of EU Home Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday.

At the session, Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, presented an index showing the pressure of the refugee crisis resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine on EU countries. Poland currently faces the biggest pressure, followed by Austria and the Czech Republic.

The commissioner did not mention Slovenia specifically, Kangler said at a press conference in Brussels while the ministerial was still under way.

He said some 7,000 Ukrainian refugees had asked for temporary protection in Slovenia, which figure did not include those who register with their relatives at police stations.

Kangler said that the latter often left Slovenia, registered in Austria and then returned to Slovenia. He noted the importance of single registry at the European level.

Roughly 50,000 people from Ukraine have crossed Slovenia, most of them heading on to Italy, France and Spain, according to the state secretary.

Kangler discussed the issue with Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović, who told him there were roughly 15,000 Ukrainian refugees in Croatia, which meant the situation in Slovenia was comparable to Croatia’s.

Božinović later told Croatian reporters that some 11,000 Ukrainian refugees had applied for temporary protection in Croatia.

The home affairs officials today also discussed helping Moldova, where some 360,000 people have fled the war in Ukraine. Kangler said the government needed yet to take a decision on Slovenia accepting refugees from Moldova.

One of the topics under discussion was financial support for EU countries to care for refugees. By activating the temporary protection regulation, Slovenia secured financing from the budget, said Kangler.

“However, given the burden and the number of refugees arriving in Slovenia, we would also like to try to find European funds that Slovenia could tap into,” he added.

As one potential option he mentioned financing from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, where an additional EUR 200 million is available that is left over from last year and the year before.

At the session Kangler also offered the assistance of the Slovenian-run ITF fund in demining Ukraine after the war. Ukrainian Interior Minister Denis Monastirski called on the ministers to start thinking how Europe would go about deactivating unexploded mines.