News 13 Apr 16

Croatia Closes Last Refugee Camp

As Croatia dismantles its last refugee camp in the eastern town of Slavonski Brod, the remaining 62 refugees are being transferred to the asylum centre in Zagreb.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Refugees arriving to the asylum centre in Zagreb. | Photo: Josip Ivanovic

Croatian authorities are closing down the last camp for Middle-Eastern refugees and have transported the 62 remaining refugees to the asylum centre in Zagreb.

From the camp in the eastern town of Slavonski Brod, the refugees were transported by a bus and police vans to the asylum centre, where they will be accommodated in joint rooms.

The government decided in early April to close the camp, which opened in November, claiming that there was no longer need for a camp that large in the current situation.

From the start of the refugee crisis in Croatia in mid-September 2015, only 157 people have been granted asylum in Croatia, while another 157 applied for it – a fraction of the number moving through the country towards Western Europe.

“Unfortunately, a major part of those who sought asylum [in Croatia] will now have problems because if they sought asylum in Croatia, they cannot seek asylum in any other EU state according to the Dublin Protocol,” said Emina Buzinkic, an activist from the organisation Initiative Welcome.

“Some of them will be devastated, since their families are already in Germany,” she added.

The Dublin Protocol says refugees must register in the first EU country they reach. It is designed to stop refugees from picking which country they would most like to claim asylum in on the basis of its wealth and benefit system.

Since Serbia, the country from which the refugees in Croatia came, will not receive them back, refugees moved to Zagreb will most likely be deported to Greece.

From there, they will be moved to Turkey under the terms of the recent EU-Turkey deal. Some may be deported to their country of origin.

Buzinkic said deportations to Greece and Turkey would breach the rights of the refugees as both countries, especially Turkey, “aren’t considered 'safe' countries by international standards.

“You can see that from the number of asylum seekers from Turkey in the world, owing to their treatment of the Kurds and other minorities, besides other issues,” she concluded.

From the beginning of the crisis a total of 658,000 refugees and migrants have crossed Croatia on their way to Germany and northern Europe. Over 340,000 passed through the camp in Slavonski Brod that opened on November 1.

 

This article was amended on Wednesday afternoon upon acknowledgement that 62 refugees were not transported to the closed centre in Jezevo but to the asylum centre in Zagreb, where they will be allowed to move freely.

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