ZAGREB, December 27, 2018 – Interior Minister Davor Božinović and Jesuit Refugee Service director Tvrtko Barun on Thursday signed an agreement on cooperation in the integration of persons relocated from Turkey whereby Croatia, according to the minister, is confirming it is an open country and that it is willing to receive a certain number of persons who meet international protection requirements.
Croatia is confirming the continuity of its policy of receiving people in need of international aid and that it can relate to the problems of people who cannot have safe lives in their home countries, but it is doing so in a rational and sustainable way, Božinović said after the signing ceremony at the ministry.
He recalled that in 2015 the government adopted a decision on the integration of 150 refugees but that the decision was implemented by the next government in 2017. In October 2017, the government adopted a decision on the integration of another 100 refugees and the agreement signed today applies to them, given that the initial 152 refugees from Syria have been successfully integrated, he said.
That is what Croatia committed to do, and when it comes to the relocation of refugees from Italy, Croatia has expressed greater willingness than was the willingness of those people to come to Croatia, given that only 82 have been integrated, Božinović said.
The integration process requires the cooperation of a number of institutions, he said, adding that there have been no problems with integration in local communities. “It’s in our interest that those people start leading normal lives, that children go to school and their parents work,” he said, adding that Croatia, although a transit country, wanted to contribute to an internationally acceptable model for dealing with the refugee issue.
However, Croatia cannot withstand or take on the burden of the unsuccessful migration policy on the global front which we have been witnessing this century, Božinović said.
On the one hand, refugee relocation is an expression of international solidarity and a sharing of responsibility with the countries hit hardest by refugee pressure, while on the other it is a tool for managing migration so as to prevent human trafficking, Božinović said.
“In this way Croatia confirms its policy, which has been presented many times both to the Croatian and the international public, that Croatia is an open country, but that it will protect its borders. Croatia will be able to draw 430,000 euro in aid to integration activities led by the Jesuit Refugee Service,” Božinović said.
The head of the Jesuit Refugee Service for Southeast Europe, Tvrtko Barun, said they were happy and proud to be able to put their knowledge and experience at the disposal of Croatia, the Ministry of the Interior and the non-governmental sector to help with the integration of about 100 refugees to be resettled from Turkey to Croatia.
The refugee integration programme includes learning of the Croatian language and employment as the final goal for long-term integration.
Barun said it would help refugees to become effectively integrated into society, receive money for everyday living expenses and contribute to society in which they have found safety and protection.
Unlike irregular migrants, these people know that Croatia will be the country of their future and as soon as they come, they will start the process of integration with language learning. Children are included in classes very quickly and can speak the language well within two or three months, helping their parents to integrate sooner, Barun said.
He said that finding work would not be a problem because a lot of employers were interested in cooperation.
More news on the migrant crisis in Croatia can be found in our Politics section.