IOM Deploys Medical Team, Distributes Non-Food Aid to Migrants in Slovenia
Slovenia - According to Slovenian Police, some 309,217 refugees and migrants have transited through Slovenia en route to Austria and Western Europe since 16 October 2015. This is roughly a third of the over 950,000 migrants and refugees arriving in Western Europe this year.
Slovenia, which recorded just 767 entries of irregular migrants in 2014, has lacked the human resources, material and technical capacity to cope with the influx.
IOM Slovenia, with funding from the Council of Europe Development Bank, has responded by launching a six-month emergency response project that will focus on establishing an information sharing platform; assisting the Slovenian authorities in providing adequate reception facilities and services to migrants and refugees; the deployment of a medical unit to points of entry and exit and transit camps; identifying vulnerable groups, including victims of trafficking, and enabling their access to specialized services; and the distribution of essential non-food items including sleeping mats, beds, hygiene kits, and mobile toilet and bathroom units, in coordination with the Slovenian Agency for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief.
IOM Slovenia Project Manager Iva Antoncic said: “The harsh winter months will intensify the need for the provision of medical care, as well as seasonally appropriate shelter and non-food relief items for the migrants and refugees. IOM will work closely with partners on the ground and the Government of Slovenia to align responsibilities and ensure a well-coordinated response.”
The response project was formulated with specific attention to vulnerable groups, especially unaccompanied and separated children. According to IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Center in Berlin, children now make up an estimated 1 in 5 of the total number of refugees and migrants entering Europe in 2015. People in need of medical attention and psycho-social support will also be targeted.
In addition, counter trafficking efforts in Slovenia will be strengthened through assistance to the border police and reception center staff in order to prevent abuse and exploitation by traffickers and criminal networks. Social workers will conduct regular visits to border crossings and the reception facilities to identify vulnerable migrants and refugees.
IOM Slovenia will provide information on their individual needs and on services available while in transit, including individual and/or group counselling on opportunities and risks associated with being an irregular migrant, in coordination with UNHCR and the Slovenian NGO community. Social workers will then provide or arrange the necessary specialized assistance, in partnership with the Slovenian authorities.
IOM will also facilitate exchanges with other stakeholders in this field, most notably with the Slovenian Red Cross for the purpose of family tracing.
The current influx of migrants and refugees is expected to continue into 2016, with ongoing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But other factors may also impact flows. These include seasonal factors like the weather, as well as the imposition of heightened border controls by transit countries, such as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which is now only allowing in Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans. Turkey also recently concluded an agreement with the European Union to control migrant flows and crack down on people smugglers.
On an inspection visit to Dobova and Šentilj transit camps, IOM Slovenia Emergency Response Coordinator Nicholas Bishop said: “In spite of their harrowing journey to reach Europe, migrants arriving in Slovenia remain incredibly positive and hopeful. IOM’s main aim is to ease the burden of new arrivals by bridging any gaps in service provision and being as responsive as possible to changing needs on the ground.”
For further information, please contact Nicholas Bishop at IOM Slovenia, Tel. +386.70600048, Email: [email protected]