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News 27 Dec 17

Serbia Police Remove Protesting Refugees From Croatia Border

Serbia has removed about 150 refugees who were protesting on the border with Croatia, demanding admission to the country, accusing them of abusing its hospitality.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Police escorts refugees to the buses. Photo: No Name Kitchen

Serbian police on Tuesday evening removed around 150 refugees, mostly from the Middle East, who were protesting on the border with Croatia demanding to be allowed into Croatia on their way to Western Europe, regional N1 media hub reported on Wednesday.

Serbia's Commissioner for Refugees and Migration, Vladimir Cucic, on Wednesday told the Serbian news agency Beta that the refugees were taken to a refugee centre in Bela Palanka, in south-eastern Serbia.

According to an NGO cooking food for the refugees, No Name Kitchen, no incidents occurred when the police gathered the refugees in buses and took them away.

Cucic accused the refugees of abusing “the visa-free regime and hospitality of Serbia”, and said they were staging protests with the help of the “anarchists and volunteers”.

“We’re speaking about arrogant people who used the visa-free regime and abused it, came to Serbia and expected that Croatia would bow to them,” he said.

He added that these mostly Iranian migrants “don’t want to wait their turn” to continue their passage towards the West, thereby harming others who wait.

Cucic discarded their claims about bad accommodation in the refugee centre at Principovci, near the Serbian town of Sid, on the border with Croatia.

“If they don’t like it, then they may go wherever they want. There is no picking, one goes where there is place, and Serbia is not obliged to … fulfil their wishes. Whoever wants and has the ability, may go,” he concluded.

While the refugees demanded that Croatia allow them in, Serbia’s Refugee Commissariat told BIRN that some NGOs had, in effect, created the problem, by wrongly informing the refugees that if they protested on the border in large numbers over Christmas, the Croatian authorities would let them in.

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