Ljubljana (AFP) – Slovenia, which this week closed its borders to migrants, will begin in April accepting refugees shared out among the European Union under its troubled quota scheme, the government said Thursday.
“This year and next some 567 refugees will be relocated to Slovenia from Italy and Greece. A first group is to arrive in April,” interior ministry official Bostjan Sefic told a news conference.
“Slovenia has expressed its wish that most of the relocated refugees are families but we cannot expect only families will arrive,” he said after a cabinet meeting.
The plan foresees the monthly relocation of between 40 and 50 refugees until June 2017, he said. Twenty other Syrian refugees, or two to four families, will be resettled this year from third countries.
The EU adopted a scheme in September to relocate 160,000 Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees from Greece and Italy but only 885 people have since been moved to other member states.
EU member Slovenia in recent months allowed hundreds of thousands of migrants travelling northwards through the Balkans to Greece to pass through its territory into Austria and beyond.
But on Wednesday it barred entry to all migrants except those wishing to apply for asylum in Slovenia or those with humanitarian needs or people a valid visa. Croatia and Serbia followed suit.
This followed a tightening of border controls throughout the western Balkans following Austria’s decision in February to cap the number of people passing through and applying for asylum.
This has created a bottleneck of thousands of people at the Greece-Macedonia border. Brussels is pinning its hopes on a mooted deal with Turkey to stop migrants entering Greece in the first place.
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