U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Slovenia
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||1 June 2000|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Slovenia , 1 June 2000, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8afc.html [accessed 23 March 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
At the end of 1999, Slovenia hosted approximately 5,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people. These included 607 pending asylum cases (321 from Yugoslav citizens) and 4,354 beneficiaries of temporary protection (3,100 from Bosnia and 1,254 from Kosovo).
During the year, asylum seekers submitted 867 applications in Slovenia, 74 percent more than in 1998. During 1999, the largest number of asylum seekers originated in Yugoslavia (398), Iran (90), Bosnia (59), Iraq (58), and Turkey (58).
During the year, Slovenian authorities adjudicated 180 admissible asylum cases. They recognized no one as a Convention refugee, but granted nine humanitarian statuses (seven to Bosnians and two to Yugoslavs), and rejected 171 claims. Another 496 cases were closed on procedural grounds. Since 1990, Slovenia has granted refugee status only three times.
Some 5,000 Kosovars fled to Slovenia in 1999, adding to an estimated 3,500 who had arrived the previous year. At year's end, 1,924 of 3,500 Kosovars who received temporary protection had reportedly returned to Kosovo.
Refugees from Bosnia
Slovenia granted temporary protection to some 70,000 refugees from the Bosnian conflict in 1992. Returns, the granting of residence permits, and resettlement to third countries have all contributed to the dwindling of this population, which at year's end numbered some 3,100, mostly elderly people. At least 142 Bosnians repatriated during 1999. Each was granted the equivalent of $350 by the government and $140 ($70 if a child) by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Most remaining refugees from Bosnia originated from areas where they would be in the ethnic minority. Few were eligible for permanent residence, having spent fewer than eight years on Slovenian soil. Slovenia recognized that these refugees were unable to return, yet had not granted them refugee status. At year's end, some 1,600 Bosnians continued to live in collective centers. Another 500 Bosnians whose temporary protected status had been withdrawn in 1997 and 1998 (mostly persons originating from areas where they would be in the ethnic majority) were still living in Slovenia without status at the end of 1998.
Refugees from Kosovo
In April, the Slovenian government extended temporary protected status to 3,500 Kosovars 1,600 flown from Macedonia under UNHCR's humanitarian evacuation program, and some 1,900 of an estimated 3,400 spontaneous arrivals. Those Kosovars accommodated privately rather than in one of ten collective centers around the country were entitled to financial assistance averaging the equivalent of $50, and access to primary education and health care. The temporary protected status also allowed for family reunification.
By year's end, 1,254 Kosovars with temporary protection remained in Slovenia. The government gave temporary protection beneficiaries who repatriated voluntarily the equivalent of $150 in addition to the flight home, or $300 if they returned by their own means. UNHCR granted a small additional amount to all returning refugees.
Other Vulnerable Populations
The International Helsinki Federation estimated that, since Slovenia's independence, as many as 90,000 former long-term residents of Slovenia of former-Yugoslavian citizenship had left. These primarily were ethnic Serbs, Croats, Albanians, and Roma who had not requested Slovenian citizenship in 1991-92. While many left voluntarily, government officials forced out numerous others through administrative measures, such as deleting residence records, arbitrarily evicting tenants from former federal military and social housing, cancelling driver's licenses obtained in the former Yugoslavia, and restricting to Slovene citizens alone many forms of humanitarian aid and shelter.
August 1999 legislation granted those remaining in Slovenia six weeks to apply for permanent residence. Human rights groups, however, criticized a provision of the law barring from the procedure persons who had left Slovenia for any period exceeding three months since Slovenia's independence in 1991. Some 13,000 persons had filed claims by year's end. Of the 1,666 whose cases were decided, all but three received permanent residence. Slovenia planned to review all applications by May 2000.
Slovenia participated in a program sponsored by the European Union (EU), announced in February, intended to harmonize asylum and immigration legislation in ten Eastern European countries. Until the new legislation was adopted in August, asylum seekers had to file applications within three days of entering the country; a government commission ruled on appeals. In addition, undocumented asylum seekers were routinely arrested, charged with illegal entry, and expelled regardless of their claim.
The new asylum law defined the right to asylum, refugee status, the principle of nonrefoulement, cooperation with UNHCR, and assistance to asylum seekers in conformity with the UN Refugee Convention. The new law improved procedural safeguards and addressed the special needs of vulnerable groups, such as female asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors. Under the August law, border authorities must refer asylum seekers to an asylum center. Asylum seekers can lodge their applications at the Ministry of the Interior, at the reception center, or with the police, regardless of the legality and length of their presence in Slovenia. Every applicant is entitled to an individual hearing. Slovenia's Administrative Court hears first-instance appeals, and must reach a verdict within 30 days.
The asylum law contains a "safe third country" provision used to declare applications by nationals of certain countries inadmissible to the procedure. Such a presumption of safety can nonetheless be appealed to the Administrative Court, which issues a decision within seven days.
Slovenia also passed a new aliens law that incorporated the nonrefoulement principle.
Observers attributed the small number of asylum applicants in Slovenia to several factors. First, Slovenian authorities almost never grant refugee status. Furthermore, border authorities reportedly have little experience handling asylum applications, and they do not receive the training needed to assess asylum claims competently.
Reception and Integration
After filing their claims, asylum seekers are usually accommodated in a special reception center, located in Ljubljana and administered by the Ministry of the Interior. If in need, they have access to free board, clothing, health care, and a small daily allowance. Those applicants deciding after seven days to live elsewhere can apply for financial assistance amounting to 60 percent of the legal minimum pay.
Severe overcrowding and deteriorating conditions in the Ljubljana reception center, which has a maximum capacity of 50 people, has been an urgent problem. The government claims it cannot afford to build new facilities to house asylum seekers.
Unlike in most other European countries, temporary protection in Slovenia gives its beneficiaries only limited social rights and benefits. The right to employment, for example, is restricted to 60 days a year. This creates particular hardships for some Bosnians who have lived in Slovenia for nearly eight years. In August, Slovenia adopted a decree to provide monthly assistance to temporary protection beneficiaries in private accommodations; however, overall assistance was sparse.