Overall living conditions
The Asylum Home is located approximately 20 minutes by bus from the Ljubljana city centre in a rather isolated area, while the Branch Facility Kotnikova is in the city centre. The towns of Logatec and Postojna, where the other two branch facilities are established, are located 30 km and 50 km from Ljubljana respectively.
The Asylum Home was renovated in 2017. The average room surface in the Asylum Home is around 3.75 – 7.50 m2 per applicant, the same as before renovation, and of similar size to the rooms in the branch facilities. Applicants are normally accommodated in rooms for two to four persons. Bathrooms in all facilities are shared. Hygiene and other conditions in the Asylum Home and its branch facilities are generally considered to be satisfactory.
Applicants are provided three meals per day. Children up to the age of 15 are entitled to two additional intermediate meals. The menu is adapted to special medical or other needs on the basis of a doctor’s certificate or other proof. Religious and other dietary customs are taken into consideration, whenever possible. Asylum seekers in the Asylum Home as well as all branch facilities also have common kitchens at their disposal in which they can cook for themselves.
The Asylum Home employs social workers and a nurse, who are present in the facility on a daily basis. A psychiatrist visits the Asylum Home on a weekly schedule and is also available to applicants from branch facilities upon appointment. Social workers are available in the branch facilities as well. Medical assistance is mostly organised through appointments at regular clinics and hospitals. Security is provided by personnel of a security company. Legal counselling is provided by PIC and various other assistance and activities by other NGOs.
The facilities could benefit from more regular employment of cultural mediators and interpreters to help with reception issues and activities, so far only available inconsistently through projects. Kindergarten-type care of children could also be increased in scope. The number of staff in the facilities is otherwise generally considered sufficient, although it may be lacking during certain periods of time (e.g. due to gaps in implementation of projects).
In 2019, due to a large number of arrivals, the Asylum Home could not accommodate all of the persons waiting to lodge their application. Due to the lack of space in the reception area of the Asylum Home, individuals who had not lodged their applications were also accommodated in the room intended for common activities or on the hallways of the Asylum Home. For that purpose, beds were brought into the common room or the hallway. Hygiene standards were not adequate and people could not have any privacy. The number of people accommodated in the reception area of the Asylum Home often exceeded the number of available accommodation places. Due to the overcrowding of the accommodation spaces in the reception area of the Asylum Home, people were also accommodated in containers in Logatec. During the winter they were accommodated in one part of the centre. Although the conditions were not appropriate for longer stays, people had to wait to lodge the application for up to 15 days. These issues persisted in 2020. Due to the obligatory quarantine period, a high number of arrivals and a lack of capacity, individuals who were waiting to lodge an application were also accommodated in shipping containers outside the Asylum Home. The containers had several beds in them and windows. Toilets were provided outside on the premises. The hygiene standards were low and individuals could not enjoy privacy in the containers. In 2020, individuals waited up to 20 days to lodge their applications.
The medical examination is normally performed before the interview but on account of the delay in lodging, people were also obliged to wait for the medical examination. Before the medical examination was performed, they were in contact with other asylum seekers and employees of the Asylum Home. Due to the increase of arrivals, hygiene conditions were low and represented a health risk for both the asylum seekers and people working in the Asylum Home. After they lodged their applications, they were accommodated in the Asylum Home or one of its branches.
Due to the large number of asylum seekers accommodated in the Asylum Home and its branches, the risk of infection with COVID-19 was high. Preventive measures were taken in all centres. Masks were obligatory and hand sanitizers were installed in all centres. All gatherings of larger groups were prohibited including workshops and language classes. Food was distributed and eaten in rooms instead of the cafeteria. People were instructed to leave the premises of the Asylum Home or its branch only if needed. Each person with COVID-19 symptoms was tested including his or her roommates and isolated.
Activities in the centres
Many NGOs and humanitarian organisations provide support in the Asylum Home on a regular basis. PIC lawyers are available to asylum seekers for legal aid and assistance in the Asylum Home every Tuesday between 14:00 and 16:00. The Institute for African Studies provides special information sessions following the asylum application with unaccompanied children and other potential victims of trafficking. Društvo UP carried out activities every day, through a project aimed at assistance with accommodation and care of asylum applicants, which includes psycho-social assistance and free time activities. The project was concluded at the end of December 2020. UOIM decided that the activities will be carried out by the additional staff employed by UOIM, and not as a project in order to ensure better continuity. The organisation Mozaik currently provides two hours of childcare every day for families accommodated in the Asylum Home. Javni zavod Cene Štupar carries out a daily programme involving Slovenian language and literacy classes and learning assistance. Free time activities are currently also carried out by Slovene Philanthropy. The Red Cross Slovenia provided psycho-social counselling as well as workshops on sexual and gender-based violence in cooperation with Zavod Emma once per week. Asylum seekers also have a room in the Asylum Home dedicated for prayer and practicing their religion.
The Branch Facility Kotnikova is visited by PIC lawyers providing legal counselling every Thursday between 14:00 and 16:00. Slovenian language and literacy classes are also carried out on a daily basis by Javni zavod Cene Štupar, which is the same as in the Asylum Home. Slovene Philanthropy provides English classes twice or three times per week and Red Cross together with Zavod Emma provided counselling to victims of SGBV twice per month.
The Branch Facility Logatec is visited by PIC lawyers for legal counselling every Wednesday. Slovenian language and literacy classes are carried out on a daily basis by Javni zavod Cene Štupar. In 2020, the Red Cross together with Zavod Emma provided counselling to victims of SGBV once per week.
One shortcoming observed in the Slovenian system is that pre-school children do not have access to regular kindergartens and families can, in this regard, only rely on NGO activities, which may not always be available or sufficient.
Apart from the above, activities are also carried out in the Asylum Home and branch facilities by the social workers of the UOIM.
A project for interpretation and cultural mediation with access to health care, as described under (see Health Care), is implemented in the Asylum Home and Branch Facility Kotnikova and was previously also implemented in the Branch Facility Logatec.
In the Student Dormitory Postojna, activities are mostly carried out by the staff of the facility; various educational, cultural and sports activities are organised by them in the dormitory and outside. Children also attend Slovenian and literacy classes organised by Ljudska univerza Postojna. Various other smaller activities and assistance are implemented by other organisations. PIC lawyers visit the facility to provide legal counselling once per month.
Most activities were suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Workshops, language classes and other activities that are carried out in groups had to be suspended while other individual activities such as individual counselling continued in accordance with the obligatory preventive measures (masks, distance, sanitizing etc.)
Average duration of stay
Considering that more than half of persons applying for asylum in Slovenia abscond – 3,356 individuals absconded in 2020 out of the total of 3,548 applicants (i.e. approximately 95%) – usually within a short time after the application, the turnover of people in the reception facilities is quite high. Applicants in the regular procedure often wait for the decision for over six months, possibly over one year or longer. The duration of Dublin procedures varies considerably and may be quick or take several months or longer. The average duration of accommodation in 2020 per person was 28 days. The average duration of stay in the Asylum Home was 12.5 days, in Kotnikova 64 days, in Logatec 14 days, and 22 days in the Student Dormitory Postojna.
 European Migration Network (EMN), Focused Study: The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in different Member states, Slovene national contribution, 2013.
 Article 14 Decree on the methods and conditions for ensuring the rights of applicants for international protection.
 The project was concluded in December 2019.
 Information provided by UOIM, January 2021.