Special reception needs of vulnerable groups


Country Report: Special reception needs of vulnerable groups Last updated: 31/03/21


Categories of people considered to be vulnerable are similar to those listed in Article 21 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive, the only difference being that the definition in Article 2 (22) IPA does not explicitly include persons with serious illness, although the definition is not exhaustive.

According to Article 14(1) IPA material reception conditions, health services, psychological counselling and overall treatment needs to be adapted for applicants with special needs regarding their reception.

There is no special mechanism laid down in the law or in practice to identify vulnerable persons for the purpose of addressing their specific reception needs. Their vulnerability can be partially examined during the medical examination – visible physical characteristics due to which the individual is considered to be vulnerable – during which the vulnerability assessment is performed according to Article 13(1) IPA. The individual’s vulnerability can also be assessed during the lodging of the application or during the personal interview. Special information sessions following the asylum application are conducted with unaccompanied children and other potential victims of trafficking under a project, implemented by an NGO, currently the Institute for African Studies. Victims or potential victims of sexual or gender-based violence can be detected, and special reception conditions arranged for them, through a system of Standard Operating Procedures,[1] which is in force and functional. In 2020, the expert group convened 15 times in order to discuss individual cases and make the additional assistance plan.

Special needs regarding reception conditions can also be identified at a later stage according to Article 13(2) IPA. Unfortunately, there is no monitoring mechanism in place regarding the measures for addressing the special needs in reception.

As mentioned in Health Care, individuals who are identified as vulnerable by a special multidisciplinary committee can receive additional health services.[2] They can also be accommodated in special facilities such as medical facilities or nursing homes if appropriate accommodation for them cannot be provided in the Asylum Home.[3] In practice, this is arranged on a case by case basis and depends on the availability of such facilities.

Vulnerable groups are accommodated according to the category of vulnerability they belong to. In 2020, 891 asylum seekers were recognised as vulnerable. The vulnerable individuals consisted of 228 children, 550 unaccompanied children, 13 elderly people, 2 disabled people, 8 pregnant women, 2 people with mental health issues, 65 individuals with severe mental issues, and 14 victims of torture, rape or other forms of physical or psychological violence.[4]

Reception of families

Families are accommodated in the branch facility in Logatec or the family section of the Asylum Home in Ljubljana. Nuclear families are accommodated together during the asylum procedure while extended family members, mainly single men, can be accommodated in a separate unit of the Asylum Home or in a different accommodation centre.

Reception of unaccompanied children

Before 2016, unaccompanied children were accommodated in a special section of the Asylum Home in Ljubljana. However, due to shortcomings in protection and care that could be provided under that arrangement, the government instituted a pilot project which took place between August 2016 and August 2017, in the framework of which unaccompanied children were accommodated in Student Dormitories Postojna and Nova Gorica. This solution provided better results, including in terms of separation from adult asylum applicants, more available assistance by specialised staff and better integration in the local environment.

After the conclusion of the pilot project, accommodation in Nova Gorica was terminated and unaccompanied children were moved to Student Dormitory Postojna. In November 2017, the government established an interdepartmental working group to develop a systemic solution of accommodation and care of unaccompanied children, based on the outcome of the pilot project and other experience. The group includes a representative of NGOs. By the end of 2018, the UOIM decided to extend the pilot project in the Student Dormitory Postojna for one more year. According to the new agreement, the number of unaccompanied children in the Dormitory was reduced from 28 to 19 in 2019. A systematic solution was not found in 2019 and, therefore, the project was extended again until the end of 2020 with the number of unaccompanied children in the Dormitory increasing from 19 to 22.[5] A systematic solution was not found in 2020, and the project was extended again until the end of 2021. The reception capacity stayed the same.

Since the number of unaccompanied children is higher than the reception capacity of the Student Dormitory, in practice only unaccompanied children under 16 are accommodated in Postojna while the rest are accommodated in the Asylum Home or in Logatec. Due to the shortcomings in protection and care, the Asylum Home is not a suitable accommodation for unaccompanied children (see Conditions in Reception Facilities). By the end of 2020, no unaccompanied minors were accommodated in the Asylum Home.[6] 11 unaccompanied minors were accommodated in the Student Dormitory Postojna and 1 was accommodated in Logatec.[7]

Various stakeholders agree that Slovenia should strengthen the individual approach towards​ accommodation and care ​ for unaccompanied children and establish support measures for transition to adulthood. ​

One identified problem is that while an age assessment procedure is set out in law (see Identification), it is not carried out in practice, thereby raising the risk of adults falsely claiming to be children being accommodated together with actual children. (see Age assessment of unaccompanied children).[8]

As described in Legal Representation of Unaccompanied Children, appointed legal guardians assist unaccompanied children with access to health care, education and reception, among other tasks.

[1]  All relevant actors (Ministry, UOIM, Police, Social services) and NGOs working with refugees are part of the Standing Operating Procedures (SOPS), When victims of sexual or gender based violence are detected it has to be reported to UOIM. The UOIM then organises a meeting with the relevant actors and NGOs in which the case is discused and a plan on further actions is made.

[2]  Article 86(2) IPA.

[3] Article 83(2) IPA.

[4] Official statistics provided by UOIM.

[5]Although the capacity of the Student dormitory is 28 persons maximum, 22 unaccompanied minors are accommodated at the same time.

[6] Official statistics provided by UOIM, January 2021.

[7] Official statistics provided by UOIM, January 2021.

[8] Official statistics provided by UOIM, January 2020.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the first report
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation