“Most of the refugees who are arriving are being provided with accommodation by their relatives and friends. Judging by the situation on Ukraine’s borders with its neighbours Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, the numbers are growing. We are also preparing for a meeting of the Council of Home Affairs Ministers, to be held on Thursday,” Božinović said in Jastrebarsko near Zagreb, at an event marking World Civil Defence Day.
The minister said the ministerial meeting in Brussels would discuss the coordination of the EU in the Ukraine crisis.
“Larger refugee waves are expected. According to some UNHCR estimates, 4-5 million people could arrive in the EU. Around eight million internally displaced. The war is still going on. At the moment it is difficult to predict that the fighting and aggression on Ukraine will end soon,” Božinović said.
He stressed that Croatia would organise itself so it can do its best in the interest of people in need.
Asked how many refugees Croatia could take in, the minister said it was difficult to speak about specific figures.
“Croatia will respond in the best way possible. I can see some countries are mentioning specific figures, not many are doing so, the situation is such that whatever we say today may become irrelevant tomorrow,” he said, noting that Croatia has plans for thousands, tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Noting that Red Cross Croatia and the Civil Protection Directorate would be in charge of coordinating the process, Božinović said that many citizens were coming forward and offering help in providing accommodation for the refugees, while he advised them to contact the competent authorities.
Božinović said that a decision had already been made to send humanitarian aid but noted that the most important thing is how neighbouring countries where logistical centres would be set up, are organised.
“This primarily refers to Poland, and I guess also to Slovakia, from where the collected aid will be sent to people in Ukraine who need it. A European response is critical. How much aid will be necessary depends on the needs. Some neighbouring countries are also already in need of aid because they are faced with a major influx of refugees,” he stressed.
He reported that Croatia had been contacted by Moldova and that certain decisions would be made soon in that regard.
“More than 50,000 refugees have arrived in that country so far, the country’s economic situation is such that it can hardly cope with such a large influx of refugees on its own. In any case, this is a crisis in terms of armed conflict, aggression and war, but this is also a humanitarian crisis of a scope not seen since World War II,” said Božinović.