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Minister Bobnar on the occasion of World Refugee Day: Anyone who flees is just looking for a new and safe home

Below is the message delivered by the Minister of the Interior, Tatjana Bobnar, on the occasion of World Refugee Day on 20 June, and statistics on international protection in Slovenia.

The core message of this year’ World Refugee Day: Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Every person has the right to seek safety

The core message of this year’ World Refugee Day: Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Every person has the right to seek safety | Author Shutterstock.com

The minister’s message:

"Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Every person has the right to seek safety.

That is the core message of this year’ World Refugee Day. Simple, yet extremely powerful and telling.

Migration has been an integral and indeed natural part of every society throughout history. Slovenia is geographically situated along a major travel route that connects Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean through the Western Balkans. That fact alone will not change. However, what we can change is our perspective.

Slovenia is committed to developing an effective humanitarian and safe migration policy. The first outlines of a new national migration strategy are already being drawn up at the ministry. The strategy will be shaped in cooperation with academic researchers, the local population and communities, civil society and NGOs.

What will our guiding principles be? On the one hand, respecting fundamental freedoms and human rights, and on the other, ensuring the highest possible level of safety for all. Indeed, both are possible: human rights and fundamental freedoms, including personal dignity, and safety for all without discrimination.

International protection must be granted to everyone who is entitled to it – without exception. We should bear in mind that behind every procedure there are people: each with their own life story, their own fears and hopes.

Anyone who flees is just looking for a new and safe home. Refugees are forced to flee their own home – not by their fault – either because of war and persecution or because of the threat to their own life or freedom. Let us be there for them as best we can, especially for the weakest and most vulnerable.

Every person has a right to seek safety. Whoever. Wherever. Whenever."

Statistics on international protection in Slovenia

Regarding international protection, the number of applications for international protection has been increasing in recent years. In 2021, the number of applications for international protection increased by 49% compared to 2020 and by 100% compared to the average of the last five years. Data for 2022 show that the number of applications in the period between 1 January and 31 May increased by 248% compared to the same period last year. In 2021, a total of 5,301 applications for international protection were lodged, while this year, 3,023 were already lodged until 31 May.

Last year, the largest number of applicants for international protection (2,614 or 50%) were Afghan nationals, followed by Pakistani nationals (493 or 9%) and Iranian nationals (331 or 6%). It follows from the data for 2022 (1 January to 31 May) that Afghan nationals filed the largest number of applications (1,024 or 34%), followed by Cubans (241 or 8%) and Pakistanis (222 or 7.3%).

In 2021, the trend of voluntary departures from Slovenia continued, resulting in 69% of deportation proceedings being discontinued. There was an increase in the number of applications lodged where it was established that another EU Member State was responsible for processing them. There were 1,390 such cases, or 200% more than in 2020. This year, the trend is continuing, with already 1,234 such cases.

In 2021, 17 seekers were granted international protection, all of whom were granted refugee status. The most international protection statuses were granted to nationals of Afghanistan (4) and Syria (4). Between 1 January and 31 May this year, 12 persons were granted refugee status, while 50 persons obtained subsidiary protection status. The majority of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection were Ukrainian nationals (47). Between 1995 and 31 May this year, 1,071 persons were granted international protection in Slovenia.

This year, in the face of the war in Ukraine and the concern for refugees, the Temporary Protection Directive, adopted in 2001, was invoked for the first time at the EU level. In accordance with this decision, on 9 March 2022, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted its Decision on the introduction of temporary protection for displaced persons from Ukraine in the Republic of Slovenia, which entered into force on 10 March 2022. The procedure for temporary protection is faster and easier than that for international protection, with the primary purpose of the status being to provide early care for displaced persons from Ukraine and the ability to exercise their rights. According to the data provided by administrative units, by 15 June 2022, 7,834 applications for temporary protection were registered and 4,472 decisions were issued in these procedures.