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News 15 Sep 15

Croatia Prepares for Possible Refugee Wave

Head of Croatian border administration says Croatia is sending 6,000 police to man the borders and is ready to receive up to 3,000 refugees.

Refugees in Macedonia.

Zlatko Sokolar, head of the Croatian border administration, said on Monday that Croatia is prepared for a refugee influx and has dispatched 6,000 police to safeguard the borders.

Sokolar said there was no refugee influx for now, but only individual crossings on the borders with Serbia and Bosnia. He added that only eight Syrians had entered Croatia lately and were being accommodated in the asylum centre in Zagreb.

“The refugee wave going towards Hungary won’t spill over into Croatia. Croatia won’t make mistakes that we have seen in other countries; we’re ready for the first wave of refugees and any further actions on the issue,” he said.

Sokolar said Croatia can hold up to 3,000 refugees in police facilities. Police will perform security checks on refugees on the border and then transport them to the centres, where they will register and receive medical treatment and other help.

Sokolar warned about potential problems with people who just want to cross Croatia into the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.

“Many of them choose specific countries to which they want to go and that may be [EU states] that have already closed their borders. So, for us the problem is not accommodation, but a way of retaining these people,” he concluded.

Only 720 people applied for asylum in Croatia this year, and of these 720 requests, only 40 were granted, while 21 were given official state protection.

Germany on Sunday said it was temporarily suspending the Schengen regime due to the large refugee influx and was reintroducing controls on the border with Austria.

According to the last European Commission plan last week, Croatia will need to accommodate 1,064 refugees. Croatia agreed to receive 550 refugees and asylum seekers in July.

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