Refugees decline asylum offer
102 refugees hailing from Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and India were busted on June 14 while trying to cross Czech-Slovak border near this village of 5,000. Just a few hours after crossing the boundary, 99 of them were deported back to Slovakia, while three Kosovo Albanians who had valid passports filed for asylum in the Czech Republic. Curiously, all others refused to file for asylum in Slovakia. "Many [Kosovo Albanians] claimed that there was no way for them to return," said Mária Čierna, a spokeswoman for the Slovak office of the UN High Commission for Refugees.
Most of them were heading for Germany and Switzerland, where they had family and relatives. There were four juveniles and a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy within the group. According to the local Border Patrol head officer, the refugees will receive a 30 day residence permit. During that period, they will be provided with necessary identification documents, which will enable them to return back to their home countries. They are not eligible for foreign asylum status since they entered Slovakia without valid passports.
A sudden outbreak of measles, considered to be an 'aftershock' of a stronger wave in March, broke out in several Romany villages in the eastern Slovak regions of Spiš and Šariš, infecting several hundred babies and youth. The infectious disease ward at the Prešov clinic had to strengthen its nursing staff by recruiting nurses from other departments. The clinic lacked enough children's beds with safety railings, and had to borrow additional beds from the recently closed kindergarten. Tatiana Suchárová, infectious ward director at the Prešov clinic, said that children are rarely vaccinated against measles due to their parents' negligence.
"Romany parents tend to find all kinds of excuses for not showing up with their children for vaccination, and the physicians often have to travel to remote villages and slums to prevent the virus from spreading," Suchárová said. The Prešov epidemic has claimed one child's life so far.
Compiled by Ivan Remiaš
2. Jul 1998 at 0:00