The Slovenia Times

Measures announced for faster refugee registration


It is also awaiting the first concrete results of an action plan agreed at Sunday's EU-Balkans summit, a government official has said.

Authorities in Slovenia will take a series of steps to speed up registration of refugees arriving to the country, including by performing some of the registration on trains which arrive from Croatia, said Interior Ministry State Secretary Boštjan Šefic.

This way there will also be a smaller burden on the registration centres in the border area around Brežice, in eastern Slovenia, which has seen the bulk of the arrivals in recent days.

Along with speeding up registration, it is hoped that the burden will be reduced on the locals as a result, Šefic said.

Tens of thousands of people have waited for registration in fields in the small village of Rigonce, outside of Brežice, and in three nearby registration centres, putting major strain on local infrastructure and affecting daily life in these places.

This will be coupled with measures to reduce the burden on police, including by bringing in private security guards for some of the security tasks. Around 50 to 60 security guards are expected to start work as early as today.

Customs agents will also be brought into the registration centres and the country will also launch the hiring of around 200 people through a public works programme to provide help at the centres, Šefic highlighted.

The announcement comes after Sunday's emergency summit, called at Slovenia's request, to bolster cooperation among the countries on the refugee route in an effort make the flow of arrivals more manageable.

Slovenia has already received the first batch of aid in equipment from EU countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Netherlands - and expects to welcome around 400 police officers to help with protecting the border from EU countries, as agreed at the summit, within a week.

Šefic said the country was also witnessing upgraded cooperation with Croatia. "So far so good," he said about announcements of new arrivals from Slovenia's neighbour.

Slovenia is holding out hope that the broader measures agreed at the summit - including efforts to step up security at the Croatian-Serbian and Greek-Turkish borders - would be implemented promptly as part of a coordinated response.

Šefic said this was the preferred solution to the need for Slovenia to take action alone for bolstering border security, including with barriers if need be.

Public broadcaster RTV Slovenija reported today that, privately, Slovenian officials were downbeat about the agreements reached at the summit, but Šefic said the country was pleased about the plan.

He added that the country would wait "a short while, two to three days" to see if the agreed measures are being implemented and produce results.

The outcome should be a stabilisation of conditions. If that fails, Slovenia "will have to adopt measures to bolster border control and divert the migration flows", he added.

With over 76,000 refugees having arrived in Slovenia since last Saturday, Slovenia's is coping but is stretched, he assessed. "The situation is under control despite what some critics may want to say - it is under control, although it is very challenging."

He said Slovenia, like bigger countries on the route, were having trouble coping with 9,000 to 13,000 people a day.

He also announced that the country was still dealing with a shortage of volunteers, which is why he called on people willing to help out to contact humanitarian organisations.


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