Slovakia increases capacity of refugee transit centre in Humenné

Wednesday 27, June 2012 BRATISLAVA, 27 June 2012 (UNHCR) – A new tripartite agreement has been signed between the Government of the Slovak Republic, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration concerning the humanitarian transfer of refugees in need of international protection through the […]

Wednesday 27, June 2012

BRATISLAVA, 27 June 2012 (UNHCR) – A new tripartite agreement has been signed between the Government of the Slovak Republic, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration concerning the humanitarian transfer of refugees in need of international protection through the Slovak Republic.

Under the new agreement Slovakia shall admit up to 150 refugees, a 50 per cent increase, for a maximum of six months, and provide them with accommodation, food and personal items in the Emergency Transit Centre (ETC) in Humenné, eastern Slovakia.  The ETC provides temporary shelter for refugees who are at risk in their first country of asylum and whose resettlement procedure to a third country is still underway.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Bratislava last week [21 June], Vladimír Šimoňák, Director of Legislation, External Relations and European Affairs at the Slovak Ministry of Interior, said the agreement represented a long-term commitment on behalf of the Slovak Government.

“We want to contribute to the global effort of tackling the refugee crises in the world. We believe that cooperation with UNHCR and IOM is the best way to do it. In the future we may even discover that we have capacity to host even more refugees but for now we have to see what the experience will be with the 150,” said Šimoňák.

The ETC currently hosts 49 refugees, all women or young children, from Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Another group of 50 refugees (Iraqis, Ethiopians, Eritreans and Somalis) are expected to arrive from Yemen in July, while nine of the Somali refugees already at the ETC will leave at the end of June.    Since the establishment of the ETC in 2009, 263 refugees have transited through Humenné – including 98 Palestinians, 90 Afghans, 50 Somalis, 12 Eritreans, 7 Ethiopians and 6 Iraqis.

UNHCR’s Deputy Regional Representative Golam Abbas said that more refugees are expected to arrive at ETC during the second half of 2012.

“The majority of the refugees are relocated from Iraq, Iran, Eritrea, Egypt and Yemen where their resettlement cannot be processed in a fast and smooth fashion,” said Mr Abbas at the signing ceremony. 

“This is why the need is so big for evacuation and relocation facilities of which there are only three globally: in the Philippines, Romania and Slovakia,” he continued, thanking the people and government of Slovakia for hosting an even increased number of refugees at the transit facility.  Abbas also praised the excellent cooperation with IOM globally and in particular, in Slovakia.

The Emergency Transit Centre (ETC) in Humenné was opened in August 2009, under the first tripartite agreement between Slovakia, UNCHR and IOM.    At the centre, refugees receive social services like language and vocational training, computer skills, cultural orientation provided by a local NGO  ETP Slovakia as well as health care, all financed by UNHCR . Accommodation, security and food is provided by the Migration Office of the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic, while international and in-country transport is covered by IOM.

Petra Hajdu in Bratislava, Slovakia