Government Denies Allegations about Behaviour Toward Migrants

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ZAGREB, March 1, 2018 – The Interior Ministry (MUP) on Wednesday denied allegations by the non-governmental organisations Are You Syrious, the Centre for Peace Studies and No Name Kitchen, of not allowing refugees access to international protection and emphasised that the Croatian police were protecting the state border, which is at the same time the external border of the European Union, applying national and European rules.

Croatia advocates lawful, sustainable and controlled migration, which is in the best interest of Croatian citizens and current and future seekers of international protection, the ministry said. It underscored that migrants in Croatia have access to the international protection system and their numbers quadrupled in 2017 compared to the previous four years, reaching a record number in Croatia’s history.

“With the consistent implementation of Article 13(2) of the Schengen Borders Code, Croatian police prevent and deter migrants from entering Croatia illegally, using all available human and technical resources while at the same time respecting the human rights of the migrants,” the ministry said in its statement.

The Croatian police consistently treat illegal migrants in accordance with the law on foreigners and relevant regulations, the ministry said.

From the beginning of 2016 until 12 February 2018, 4,253 seekers of international protection were registered, which is a significant increase compared to previous years. In 2017, international protection was granted to 213 persons, which is a little more than the average granted in the EU and the highest number ever in Croatia.

The ministry emphasised that Croatia is mostly a transit country for illegal migrants and that most of them do not formally apply for international protection until they arrive at their final destination.

“Most migrants refrain from expressing their intention for international protection when they are required to give their finger prints for the EURODAC system because they are aware that in that case Croatia is responsible to process their application. By seeking international protection in Croatia, it becomes the destination country for migrants which means that they will be immediately returned to Croatia from any other member state until Croatia processes their application or until they are returned to their country of origin,” MUP explained.

MUP underscored that 77% of the total number of applications for international protection in 2017 were suspended because the applicants had left Croatia before the process was completed. That, the ministry said, confirms the fact that these are economic migrants who are abusing the institute of asylum in Croatia.

As part of the resettlement and relocation of migrants, in 2015 Croatia undertook to take in 1,583 migrants, 1,433 were to be relocated from Italy or Greece and 150 from Turkey. In October last year, the government decided that in 2018 it would take in an additional 100 Syrian refugees from Turkey, the ministry said.


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