Interior Minister Criticized After Large Group of Migrants Illegally Enter Croatia

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Minister Vlaho Orepić claims that the police are successfully controlling the state border.

Croatian Interior Minister Vlaho Orepić said on Sunday that the discovery and rescuing of 67 illegal immigrants in a van near Novska was a result of professional work of the police and its efforts to control illegal migration, report Večernji List and RTL on December 19, 2016.

“Sixty-seven human lives were in danger, they were squeezed into 10 square metres of a van, and these are the first results of the professional work of the police and its efforts with regards to the problem of migrants”, said the Minister. He added that the police had set up a system of control at three levels: at the state border, immediately after the border, and in the whole territory of Croatia. It is with the risk analysis of vehicles and people that we have achieved this result. This van was previously identified as risky and the result was truly useful, said Orepić, who congratulated members of the Interior Ministry’s mobile units for their professional work.

A mobile unit of the traffic police stopped a van with British registration plates on 17 December near Novska. In the cargo area, in very poor conditions, 67 migrants were found, including two children. They were in very bad shape and were transported to hospitals within two hours. They are recovering well. The two Bulgarian nationals who were trying to smuggle the people have been arrested.

However, security expert Vlatko Cvrtila criticized the Minister for the fact that the van was able to get deep into Croatian territory. “No one has explained how did the immigrants cross the border. Did they cross the so-called green border on foot and then boarded the van somewhere in Croatia, or did they cross the border in the van, which would raise interesting questions of how it was possible that such a van was not detected at the border itself”, said Cvrtila.

“They were found quite far from the border, so it is possible that this was just a random thing, and I think that the police should provide answers to these questions. That is very important for the Croatian public. Minister Orepić has said that we control the border well, but it is obvious there are certain gaps and I think that the police should give answers how something like this could happen. Fortunately, tragedy was avoided and that is what is good news in the whole story”, added Cvrtila.

“I think that the whole Europe is now better organized for possible migrant wave than last year, but our border is extremely challenging and we will have to take some additional measures to prevent illegal trafficking of people which will certainly increase. There are about 7,000 people in Serbia who will try to cross the border between Croatia and Serbia, and gain entry into the European Union. Since they cannot do it legally, they will try to do it illegally. There will certainly be the second large migrant wave. If we look at what the strategic situation is at the moment, there will certainly be a new wave of refugees coming to Turkey”, concluded Cvrtila.


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