ZAGREB, September 5, 2018 – Since the start of 2018, around 2,500 refugees and migrants who tried to reach Western Europe via Croatia have been turned back, including 1,500 who have been denied asylum, while 700 have reported violence and theft, the UNHCR says in a report entitled “Desperate Journeys”.
Among the 2,500 refugees and migrants, there were more than 100 children and more than 700 adults who complained of violence and theft, says the UNHCR, giving an overview of the situation along the Mediterranean migration route, including the Balkans, in the period from January to August 2018.
Along with Croatia, the report on irregular migrants travelling from Greece and Bulgaria via the Balkans also includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Hungary, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
Refugees and migrants interviewed by the UNHCR and its partners in the Balkans reported of their smugglers denying them sufficient amounts of food to exact more money. Some refugees have been robbed by local gangs along the way, and many women and girls as well as some men and boys have claimed to have suffered sexual violence.
Since the start of this year, at least 26 people have died in 22 separate incidents while travelling across the Balkans. Of those casualties, 12 drowned, mostly on the border between Croatia and Slovenia.
Since the start of the year, more than 150 people have complained about the physical violence by Hungarian border authorities during forced deportations, while more than 140 have complained about similar conduct on the part of Romanian authorities.
Several hundred claimed to have been pushed back from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Serbia and Montenegro. At least 65 were forcibly relocated to Serbia from neighbouring countries which they had entered for the first time, says the UNHCR report.