Four hotspots and special website in Ukrainian to help refugees

Temporary protection can now be requested in Slovakia. Finance Minister proposes cash payments to those who take in refugees.

People fleeing war in Ukraine at the border crossing in Vyšné Nemecké, eastern Slovakia. People fleeing war in Ukraine at the border crossing in Vyšné Nemecké, eastern Slovakia. (Source: Sme - Marko Erd)

Four hotspots for refugees from Ukraine will be available near Slovakia's eastern border as of today. The Slovak authorities have also launched a special website for people fleeing the war.

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The website https://ua.gov.sk/ provides more detailed information in Ukrainian about what awaits people directly at the border, and after their transition to Slovakia. "We will take care of you," the authorities state on the website.

The hotspots where refugees can check in will be situated in the border municipalities of Ulič, Ubľa, Vyšné Nemecké and Veľké Slemence, and will operate 24/7. They will not serve as border crossings; instead, they will provide first aid to refugees from Ukraine. This should mean that the administrative process that every person coming from Ukraine has to go through when arriving in Slovakia will be handled faster. The police and Migration Office are jointly handling the fast-tracked process.

Humanitarian organisations will also have tents to help people in need, coordinated by the Health Ministry. People who want to volunteer there should contact the ministry via dobrovolnici.ukrajina@health.gov.sk.

The number of hotspots is set to increase if the situation requires it, the authorities say.

Apart from hotspots, there is also a temporary emergency camp with field beds, sleeping mats and sleeping bags with a capacity of 500 people, built in the compound of the firefighting unit in Humenné. As of Sunday morning, 240 people were staying there.

The activities of the ministries and non-governmental units that are currently present on the border crossings with Ukraine, as well as the facilities established to help the refugees, are being coordinated by operational staff situated in Sobrance.

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The current situation at the border

Altogether 12,435 people underwent processing at the border with Ukraine between February 26 and this morning (27 February). The waiting time is between three and 12 hours, the police have stated on Facebook. The shortest waiting periods are on the border crossing at Veľké Slemence.

During this time, 35 Ukrainians have asked for asylum. One person tried to cross the border illegally.

Finance minister proposes payments for help

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) visited the Ukrainian border, proposing that refugees from Ukraine should be able to ask for temporary protection with the right of tolerated stay during the border control, and receive it within an hour. After being granted this status, they would be entitled to health insurance and material need benefit, as well as the opportunity to work in Slovakia.

In addition, he is proposing that the state provide financial compensation to anybody who offers accommodation to Ukrainian refugees, amounting to €100 per child and €200 per adult, as reported by the TASR newswire. This includes private people, the owners of accommodation facilities, municipalities, charities and churches.

The aim is to offer refugees the maximum possible help to those in need, Matovič said, adding that it is mostly women and children who are currently coming to the territory of Slovakia.

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These people should be registered by municipalities, which would also be asked to cover costs related to their accommodation. Matovič promised that his ministry would reimburse these costs.

He said his proposal has the support of coalition partners. He plans to officially submit the proposal on Monday, February 28.

Current measures in place

Slovakia declared a state of emergency in connection with an expected mass influx of refugees from Ukraine at noon on Saturday, 26 February. It allows the country to impose measures related to economic mobilisation, which involves the preparation of resources for use in a national emergency by carrying out changes in the organisation of the national economy.

This includes securing accommodation for foreigners, organising their transport or medical treatment, and defining related work duties.

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Parliament also adopted an amendment to the law on asylum that enables the state to provide temporary protection to incomers, even without a decision by the Council of the European Union, and specifies provisions for providing temporary protection.

Moreover, a refugee who has accommodation secured after requesting temporary protection does not have to go to a refugee camp, as they normally would. In order to speed up the procedure, the potential danger the foreigner may pose to Slovakia will be checked afterwards. If the authorities find out that the foreigner in question poses a potential risk, they will follow the currently valid legislation and cancel the granted temporary protection status.

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