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Slavonski Brod Prepares for the Arrival of Refugees

By 14 October 2015

The latest on the migrant crisis in Croatia.

A new temporary reception centre for refugees from the Middle East entering Croatia will soon be opened in a former industrial warehouse in Slavonski Brod. The location was chosen for several reasons, the most important being that there are two large heated objects and that it is located outside the city and has a direct link with the railway network which will enable faster transfer of refugees. Interior minister Ranko Ostojić confirmed that the opening of the centre in Slavonski Brod does not mean an immediate closure of the Opatovac centre, reports Vecernji List and Index.hr on October 14, 2015.

"For a while, both camps will work in parallel, depending on the inflow of refugees from Serbia. The refugees will be directly transported by train from the railway station in Tovarnik to Slavonski Brod", Ostojić explained. Local volunteers are ready to support the refugees. They say the job will now be much easier for them, since the reception centre will be located in their city. However, citizens are divided. While some say that refugees should be welcomed, others are calling for protests.

"It is a shame what they are doing. Instead of industrial development, they are giving us refugees", said one citizen. The reception centre will cover 80,000 square metres of former INA warehouses. "If the transit centre is opened in our city, we will do everything to make sure that the decision does not impair the normal functioning of the city", said mayor Mirko Duspara, who yesterday spoke about possible problems. First of all, the industrial zone Bjeliš, where the transit centre will be located, is situated along the Sava river and last year was prone to flooding. In addition, due to construction work on the traffic network, the rail-track leading to the zone will be out of service from 15 November to 15 December.

Analyst Zoran Grgić has warned about possible security problems. Several years ago, the industrial zone recorded a significant leakage of ammonia. Therefore, this part of the city was evacuated, but now that would not be possible. "Bjeliš area has one of the largest ammonia tanks in Europe. In its immediate vicinity there is a fuel tank, and there are also large amounts of flour in silos", Grgić warned.

County Office for Protection and Rescue concluded that the proposed site is unsuitable for the reception of refugees, because the industrial zone includes food factory "Vindon" and cold storage plant with fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, the influx of refugees to Croatia is not slowing down. From midnight to 9 pm on Tuesday, 4,344 migrants and refugees entered Croatia, Currently, there are around 900 people accommodated in the Opatovac temporary reception centre. Since the beginning of the migration crisis in the region, a total of 170,213 migrants and refugees have entered Croatia.

In an interview with Jutarnji List, Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović spoke about the refugee crisis. Talking about the statement of prime minister Zoran Milanović that he is in contact with German chancellor Merkel, Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann and Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar, and that they are his company, while she was in a "bad company" during her recent visit to Hungary, the president said that such comparisons are wrong. "For me, there is no 'us or them', not in international relations and not within Croatia", she said.

"People mentioned by the prime minister also communicate and collaborate with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and others that the prime minister called 'bad company'. That is not right. After all, what would happened is someone from the international community were to ignore us because they did not like our policies?", she said.

When asked what the Hungarian prime minister said to her about Croatia and Milanović, who has recently attacked Hungarian government for its policies towards migrants, president said that Orban was very concerned about the relationship between the two countries, but did not say anything bad about the Croatian prime minister. "Orban is concerned about inter-state relations. He knows that this is not the attitude of the majority of Croats and Croatian people. I must stress that during our meetings he did not say a single bad word about prime minister Milanović."

Speaking about the refugee crisis, president said that Croatia will need to put a fence on its borders to protect itself and reiterated that from the very beginning she has demanded the absolute control of borders, which can be done with the armed forces and the police. "I think that in the future we will need some sort of fence or physical barrier. But, do not call it a wire fence. Do not compare it with Srebrenica or concentration camps", she said.

"We cannot take care of a large number of people. What I do not want to happen is for a large number of people to arrive to Croatia, and then for the borders of neighbouring countries to be sealed", she explained.

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