Asylum seekers note double standards for refugees

Ljubljana – The way refugees from Ukraine have been taken in in Slovenia is more humane and sensible than procedures involving refugees from other countries, reads an open letter by a group of asylum seekers. Ukrainian refugees are dealing with much more relaxed conditions, they note, urging an end to these double standards.

Asylum seekers from aliens centres Kotnikova and Vič in Ljubljana have addressed the letter to the authorities, calling on them to implement their rights that for now exist only on paper, including the right to immediate access to work and welfare system, free movement, and decent living conditions.

They express their surprise over how quickly the authorities managed to prepare separate accommodation facilities, new beds and tasty food for refugees from Ukraine. In addition, Slovenia strives to provide these refugees with immediate access to a work permit, and they are allowed to reside outside aliens centres.

The petitioners note that their experience with Slovenia’s asylum system is quite different since asylum seekers from other countries face problematic living conditions, confronted by bed bugs-ridden and often overcrowded and uninhabitable facilities.

They pointed out that the poor living conditions were also unacceptable in the light of the fact that as much as EUR 200 million from the asylum, migration and integration fund remained unspent.

Highlighting how difficult it is to access adequate healthcare, to get appropriate legal representation or to open bank accounts, they wrote: “For years we have been requesting to be allowed to work during the proceedings. Your answer is the same every time: our hands are tied, nothing can be done.”

What is more, asylum conditions have been beefed up under the latest legislative changes, bringing additional restrictions in recent months such as a ban on cross-municipal travel and curfew, reads the letter, addressed to the Interior Ministry, the Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants and asylum centres.