BECAUSE of a significant fall in the number of applications, the Gabčíkovo refugee camp was closed at the end of 2008, the private TV channel Markíza reported.
The camp, which opened on September 1, 1999, had space for several hundred refugees. According to the ČTK newswire, three other Slovak refugee camps in Rohovce, Opatovská Nová Ves and Humenné, remain in use.
“The decline in the number of asylum seekers was caused mainly by increased enforcement on Slovakia’s borders,” Silvia Miháliková, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry told Markíza. Security on the border with Ukraine was significantly strengthened before Slovakia’s accession to the Schengen area. According to Miháliková, another reason for the decreasing numbers stems from a regulation that refugees cannot apply for asylum in more than one EU country.
The number of applicants for asylum has markedly fallen since 2004 when there were over 11,000 applicants. By 2007, the Ministry of Interior saw only 2,643 applications from asylum seekers. In the first eleven months of 2008 the number fell to 845.
According to the TASR newswire, asylum-seekers in Slovakia mostly aim to reach other EU states such as Austria, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
12. Jan 2009 at 0:00 | Compiled by the Spectator staff from press reports