UNHCR doubts that Slovakia's asylum system is ready for the EU

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bratislava doubts whether Slovakia's asylum policy is prepared for European Union entry, news wire SITA wrote.

The spokesman for the UNHCR Office in Slovakia, Zolo Mikeš, says they are mainly concerned about the growth in the number of asylum-seekers directly before Slovakia's European Union entry. However, the number of asylum cases granted has not increased.

In the first three months of this year, Slovak authorities did not grant asylum to a single applicant and this fact indicates that the country is not able to respond to the EU demands of central European countries, whose borders will become the EU frontier after enlargement.

As of May 1, when the Dublin agreement takes effect, people who requested asylum in Slovakia and then moved on to Austria will be sent back to Slovak territory.

Over the first three months of the current year, 2,531 immigrants applied for asylum in Slovakia, which is more than double the number compared with the same period of 2003, when 1,249 applied.

The fact that no asylum-seeker was granted asylum might cast doubts on the functioning of the asylum system, said the head of the UNHCR Office in Slovakia, Pier Francesco Maria Natta.

According to him, of all European countries, the Slovak Republic grants asylum to the fewest people.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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