A high-ranking official from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday called on the Croatian government to immediately address reports alleging that Zagreb was denying entry to potential asylum-seekersMOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 27th December, 2019) A high-ranking official from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday called on the Croatian government to immediately address reports alleging that Zagreb was denying entry to potential asylum-seekers.
The UNHCR's regional representative for Central Europe, Montserrat Feixas Vihe, said in an interview with the EURACTIV Croatia media network that the agency had recently received credible reports of people claiming they were unlawfully deported from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The reports further revealed that Croatian police were mistreating and using excessive force against asylum-seekers, according to the official. The agency has therefore requested that the government launch an official inquiry into the claims.
The official added that "a joint, independent assessment of the border situation," involving different international organizations, would be useful to address the matter.
According to Vihe, Croatia's asylum system has many advantages as it provides people with a "generous" integration program, accommodation for two years after obtaining a refugee status and good opportunities for employment. However, the agency has repeatedly raised concerns about the situation with asylum-seekers.
"Based on its monitoring activities, UNHCR has identified serious concerns about people, including potential asylum seekers, who were forcibly denied entry or removed from one country to another through the region," she said, adding that under international law, countries are obliged to assess asylum-seekers' applications.
In early December, Vihe met with Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman and once again urged him to ensure asylum-seekers had access to its territory.
In addition, the UN agency signed an agreement with the Croatian government and one of its partners, the Croatian Law Center, with the aim to monitor the work of border police stations, particularly with regard to the processing and referral of new asylum applications, Vihe said.
Croatia alongside several other Eastern European countries have repeated objected to the open-door migration policy endorsed by other EU members. Despite multiple reports alleging police violence against migrants, the Croatian Interior Ministry has denied the claims, saying that its officers were preventing asylum-seekers from illegally entering the country.