IN SHORT

Influx of asylum applications

SLOVAKIA received 5,007 applications for asylum in the first eight months of 2002, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) branch office in Slovakia.

Most of the applicants came from Afghanistan, Iraq, China, India, Bangladesh and the Russian Federation.

Though Slovakia is still mainly a transit country for most of the asylum seekers, the number of refugees planning to stay in the country is gradually rising, a spokeswoman from the UNHCR said, adding that Slovakia has the capacity to accept and integrate more refugees than it does at present. This year, the Interior Ministry has granted 12 applicants refugee status and rejected 171. Thirty-seven refugees have received Slovak citizenship.

Between 1992 and August 31, 2002, Slovakia received 18,282 applications for asylum, but granted refugee status in only 528 cases and gave citizenship to only 89 refugees.

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