Many Refugees Deciding to Stay in Croatia

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 25, 2018 – Although a majority of refugees did not initially intend to stay in Croatia, many change their minds while waiting for asylum, the head of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Tvrtko Barun said in Zagreb on Wednesday.

“For most people who come here, not through programmes of the European Union and the Ministry of the Interior but in other ways, and apply for asylum, Croatia is not their target destination, but while waiting for a decision, which takes five months on average, they meet people and decide to stay here,” Barun told a press conference after signing a cooperation agreement with the rector of the Catholic University of Croatia (HKS) Željko Tanjić.

“All those who are granted asylum want to stay if they can,” Barun said, adding that getting a job, housing and learning the language are the three main steps in the social integration of refugees.

Croatian employers are looking for workers among refugees on a daily basis, and the response is very good because “refugees are happy to be able to earn their bread with their own hands,” he said, adding that the JRS is pleased to act as a go-between between employers and refugees.

About 350 asylum seekers are currently staying in Croatia, mostly in the refugee reception centres in Zagreb’s Dugave district and in Kutina. Since 2004, when the asylum system was put in place, 560 people have been granted some form of international protection, and about 100 of them have left Croatia.

Barun said that Croatia does not have a refugee integration system, while coordination between government departments and different institutions is in its early stages. Major steps have been taken in recent months in organising Croatian language courses for refugees, he added.

The JRS and HKS signed a cooperation agreement to promote social, educational and scientific activities stemming from the missions of the two institutions.

Tanjić said that, following the Christian and humanist principles and the call by the Catholic Church and Pope Francis, they were doing all in their power to help people who had been forced to leave their homes for different reasons. “Pope Francis has called on Catholic universities and the university community to engage in work with refugees, particularly through their integration and education,” Tanjić said.


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