How does Slovenia react to the refugees crisis?
Author: Špela Drobnic
As you may know, Slovenians’ opinions are divided on many issues; due to geographical or political reasons. This means that the country has many opposing thoughts on the topic of refugees. On one hand, there are the ones who believe that refugees are going to enrich our society, that our country should put in some efforts to keep (some of) the refugees in our country and that people are coming from warzones, where their lives are endangered and to flee is the only possible and reasonable way to survive.
On the other hand, some Slovenians are xenophobic and eager to share their racist views online. Refugees are going to bring an end to the small Slovenian nation. We should close our borders, since refugees are trying to invade Europe and all of them are uncivilized. I have noticed that racist, xenophobic and neofacist groups on social networks are gaining on popularity and people share their opinion, which mostly is not well elaborated and is often based on prejudices. Refugees are considered to be a matter of threat to the security of the country and are rarely referred to as people who flee their home countries to save their lives. The image of the refugee situation in Slovenia is often depersonalized and reduced to national security issue. That is clearly seen at the borders, when refugees are ‘welcomed’ with fully equipped military and police personnel, although data shows that there were only 23 incidents among 188.000 refugees. Therefore 99,9 % of the migrants were completely harmless.
We should not forget the views of the people actively involved, who witnessed the situation among the refugees and at the borders. Their statements serve to calm down the sceptical public. They talk about different groups of refugees, among which some seem to be disrespectful – there were also fights for food, clothes and some of them burnt down tents in refugee facility centres. But the majority is exhausted and wishes only something warm to eat and clean clothes. The Slovenian students’ union wants to be a mediator – it tries to confront those radical ideas and thus a lot of events are organized that should help students to better respond to this refugee crisis.
The student union does not try to guide the views but rather to promote discussion and tolerance. Thus Slovenian students’ union and its supporting entities organize round tables with scholars, representatives of the Red Cross, Slovenian police force and other actors involved. In addition to this, humanitarian actions are carried out. Students can donate food, clothes etc to gathering points all around the country; also local students clubs are supporting the action and organize their own events in order to reduce tensions. A lot of students also volunteer at the borders or facilities for refugees. Student unions try to promote the indifferent standpoint – refugees are here, they need help at least to some basic extent which needs to be satisfied to keep human dignity and ensure basic human rights.
As mentioned before, Slovenia’s opinion about each and every topic varies a lot and this separation of political opinions serves also as the ground to strengthen radical movements. In the light of recent events in Paris, the xenophobic opinions are on the rise and conspiracy theories are seemingly the most appropriate way of explaining events. Slovenian students’ union is a strong supporter of unity and dialogue among politics and civil society and that this common standpoint would bring some certainty and reassure that the country is safe despite recent Paris events and rising perception of ‘dangerous migrants’. Those events are opening new questions to Slovenia on how to tackle this extremely sensitive line between human rights and security. But despite all these events, we should always set the human rights at the forefront of a peaceful and integrated society.