Thursday, 16 January 2020

BiH to Change Policy Towards Migrants Coming to Croatian Border?

ZAGREB, January 16, 2020 - Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) new Security Minister Fahrudin Radončić will step up monitoring on the border with Serbia and Montenegro to stop the influx of illegal migrants from those countries and coordinate activities with ministers of the interior in the region, the Security Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement was issued after a meeting of the operational group in charge of illegal migrations.

Announcing the new approach to dealing with illegal migrations in the country, Radončić said that his ministry could not be the only institution in the country in charge of care for migrants and that all institutions and government agencies should become involved.

Radončić told the heads of local police agencies who are members of the operational group that he would put emphasis on more efficient border control and prevention of illegal arrivals of migrants as well as on strengthening the capacity of the border police and office for aliens, adding that he would also hold talks with the neighbouring countries' ministers of the interior on ways to deal with the problem together.

Due to the winter conditions, the number of illegal migrants arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina has decreased and currently around 5,500 illegal migrants are staying in reception centres in the country.

The measures announced by Radončić were advocated also by former Security Minister Dragan Mektić but he never received the support of the state leadership for them.

The Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, resolutely opposed proposals that soldiers be deployed along Bosnia and Herzegovina's eastern border to help police prevent illegal entries, and the state-level leadership has to date not approved the filling of more than 500 vacant police posts.

At the same time, the Bosnian Serb entity authorities are not allowing the opening of reception centres in their territory to relieve the pressure of migrants on the area of Bihać, and officials in almost all communities in the other entity, the Federation, have acted similarly.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

HRW: Croatia Bears No Consequences for Pushbacks of Migrants

ZAGREB, January 15, 2020 - The Human Rights Watch (HRW) warns in its latest annual report on human rights' state of affairs worldwide that despite reports "about illegal and violent pushbacks of migrants by Croatian police into Bosnia and Serbia, in breach of EU refugee and human rights law, Croatia faced no consequences from EU institutions."

This New-York based international non-governmental organisation described these reports as credible.

It cited statistics provided by the Croatian Ministry of Interior which show that "in the first eight months of 2019, 11,813 new migrants and asylum seekers were recorded, mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey, an increase of more than 8,600 compared to the same period in 2018."

"In the same period 974 people claimed asylum and authorities approved 71 asylum requests, including 13 from 2018.

"Croatia reported that it blocked entry to 9,487 people at its borders in the first 8 months of the year," reads the HRW report's section headlined " Croatia Events of 2019 - Part of the EU Chapter".

The HRW organisation also reports that "in January, a Europe-wide universities-led Holocaust Remembrance project found historical revisionism in Croatia among the highest in the European Union".

"During a year that saw several violent attacks on Croatian Serbs, Croatia’s ombudswoman and civil society groups expressed concern about the climate of intolerance against minorities.

Between January and September 2019, Documenta, an NGO, registered 39 war crime cases against 59 defendants before courts in Croatia. In the same period, 15 people were convicted for war-related crimes, including one for sexual violence.

In July 2019, Croatia ratified the Safe Schools Declaration pledging to refrain from the military use of schools in wars. According to the Ombudswoman for Children, Roma children were most deprived group in 2019, with limited access to services, reads the report's section on Croatia.

"Despite the consistent recommendations to Croatia from international bodies to facilitate community-based support for all people with disabilities currently in institutions, Croatia persisted with plans to place adults with disabilities in foster care, publishing a draft law in December 2018. In January 2019, the Ministry of Social Policy indicated that 4,216 adults were placed in 1,481 foster care families," reads the report.

More human rights news can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Plenković: Croatia Won't Become Hotspot for Migrants

ZAGREB, January 14, 2020 - Croatia will not become an informal hotspot for migrants, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in the European Parliament (EP) on Tuesday after several MEPs objected to the way Croatia's police treat illegal migrants.

Croatia will not become a country that will be an informal hotspot, Plenković said and added that unlike other countries, Croatia did not decide to build barricades and barbed wire but to protect the Croatian, European and future Schengen border with 6,500 police officers.

The solution is to protect the external border, particularly between Turkey and Greece where the eastern-Mediterranean and western Balkan routes begin, said Plenković, adding that Europe can act in crisis areas with its humanitarian aid, economic strength, conflict mediation and other tools.

After Plenković presented Croatia's priorities during its presidency of the EU, European Greens leader Ska Keller spoke about reports of alleged violence and abuse by Croatia's police against illegal migrants on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Addressing the EP plenary session, Keller claimed that migrants' belongings were destroyed, they were beaten and even shot at, and that the Croatian government has not stopped this nor investigated it.

That is not acceptable for any member of the EU nor any country anywhere, Keller said. Croatia's borders are Europe's borders, whatever happens there is the responsibility of us all, we will not turn our heads away from that, she concluded.

Plenković responded that in its treatment of migrants, Croatia respects all Croatian and European laws and international conventions and that not one of those accusations should be taken for granted.

I say that as someone who has visited that border area between Croatia with Bosnia and Herzegovina and I completely understand what sort of terrain that is and what the conditions there are like, Plenković said and underscored that all complaints regarding police behaviour are investigated.

Most of the critics of Croatia's migrant policy were from the Greens and the left, including Malin Bjork, who said that she had visited the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia and noted that in 2019 alone more than 25,000 pushbacks had occurred there without any administrative procedures being undertaken.

Croatian MEP Tomislav Sokol (HDZ) responded that those were untruths as the reports referred to were not by the relevant bodies. He underlined that Croatia is respecting the law, but Bjork said that in the very short time she visited the border she saw 25 pushbacks.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 10 January 2020

UNHCR Calls on Croatia to Improve Refugee Protection During EU Presidency

ZAGREB, January 10, 2020 - The Croatian and German Presidencies of the European Union in 2020 present opportunities to improve refugee protection, primarily by reforming the asylum system and providing greater support to the countries where most refugees live, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday on the occasion of the start of Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU.

"The Presidencies and the envisaged Pact on Migration and Asylum present unique opportunities to better protect forcibly displaced and stateless people in Europe and abroad, while supporting host countries," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its recommendations for the Croatian and German presidencies of the Council of the EU this year.

"As we enter a new decade, and following the success of the Global Refugee Forum, the EU under its Presidencies has the chance to make 2020 the year of change for robust refugee protection," said Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR’s Regional Representative for EU Affairs.

UNHCR’s recommendations propose a truly common and workable asylum system within the EU through sustainable reform and revitalised financial support for countries hosting forcibly displaced people outside the EU, the UN agency said in a statement.

"Inside the EU, fair and fast asylum procedures need to be established to quickly determine who needs international protection and who does not. People eligible for protection should quickly be granted status and receive support for integration. Those not eligible to any form of protection should be assisted in their return.

"Responsibility-sharing with EU Member States receiving a disproportionate number of asylum claims is also needed to ensure a truly common and workable asylum system. UNHCR is encouraging the Presidencies to advance work on an effective solidarity mechanism, including through relocation arrangements, with family unity prioritized," the statement said.

"The pre-accession process provides opportunities to support countries in the Western Balkans in terms of further developing their asylum systems. UNHCR remains ready to continue to work with the EU institutions and Agencies in the further development of protection-sensitive border management, fair and efficient asylum procedures and first reception capacity, ensure a consistent regional approach to registration, strengthen access to fundamental rights and services, as well as expand integration opportunities," the UN refugee agency said.

"With 85 percent of the world’s refugees hosted in neighbouring and developing countries, revitalized financial support is also needed," UNHCR warned and proposed that the Presidencies "ensure increased and diversified funding, including for development cooperation funding, to further support host countries and help forcibly displaced people rebuild their lives."

"The next EU budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027) is a key opportunity for the EU to demonstrate global solidarity towards forcibly displaced people and their hosts," it added.

UNHCR concluded by saying it remains ready to support the Croatian and German Presidencies, the EU, and its Member States as they work to enhance solidarity with refugees and the countries hosting them in the EU and globally.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Plenković: Croatia Will Never Put up Barbed Wire Towards Bosnia

ZAGREB, January 9, 2020 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday his government would never put up barbed wire on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop illegal migrants because there were natural obstacles and that would be a bad political message to the neighbouring country.

He was speaking of migration at a meeting with foreign correspondents who arrived in Zagreb from Brussels on the occasion of Croatia's presidency of the European Union.

Some of our neighbouring EU member states have put up physical barricades and barbed wire. We haven't opted for that because we have natural barriers such as the Danube and the Sava rivers, mountains and forests, Plenković told a Dutch journalist when asked about the migrant policy Croatia would advocate during the presidency.

He said BiH was a neighbouring and friendly country with which Croatia shared many links and that barbed wire would not be a good political message for bilateral relations.

Addressing some 60 foreign journalists, Plenković said Croatians lived in many places on the other side of the border and that as prime minister he would never opt for building a barrier between Croatians.

He said it was necessary to stop illegal migration and reform the Dublin Regulation, adding that migration was the issue which, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, had changed the political mood in Europe the most.

A New York Times journalist asked if a country accused of beating and shooting at migrants, stealing from them and returning them from Zagreb to BiH could propose a reform of the migration policy.

Plenković said those were allegations, not facts, and that Croatia had opted for investing in police capabilities instead of barbed wire.

We are considering every humanitarian aspect. We have no proof of what you are saying, except two shooting incidents which occurred by accident inside Croatian territory. But that was accidental and it is not the official policy or the intention of the police, he said, adding that every complaint about the work of security forces was properly checked.

Responding to a question from a journalist of the UK's Telegraph, Plenković said Brexit was not a smart idea. Time has shown how complicated are the consequences of that decision by the then British Prime Minister David Cameron, he added.

A Wall Street Journal reporter asked if EU-US trade disputes would spill over onto the transatlantic alliance, to which Plenković replied that he believed there was common sense on both sides of the ocean, enough to avoid an escalation of those disputes.

He said the UK's exit from the EU was the right time for the Conference on the Future of Europe, with which Democracy and Demography Commissioner Dubravka Šuica of Croatia would be tasked.

A nuclear power and permanent member of the Security Council is leaving, and this is the moment for the EU to see what it must do to gain bigger support among its citizens, Plenković said.

As for countries which want to join the EU, he said that Croatia, as a country in this part of Europe, felt a responsibility for their European journey.

After talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, Plenković believes that France could change its opinion by the Zagreb summit on enlargement in May. Last October, France was the most vocal opponent to opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

He said Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi was working on a document which could amend the accession negotiations methodology, which could satisfy France.

European Council President Charles Michel and the entire European Commission with Ursula von der Leyen at the helm is coming to Zagreb on Thursday.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Croatian Politics 2019: A Year in Review

What follows is a review of events in Croatian politics in 2019, as reported by TCN. If you would like to refresh your memory about the events which has led us here, read the reviews for the three previous years (2016, 2017, 2018).

The year started with a high-profile failure by the government. Months after it was announced that Croatia would buy used Israeli F-16 fighter planes, the US government vetoed the sale and the whole project fell through. Despite earlier warnings from experts that the deal was in question, ministers continued to claim that everything was alight. However, after a meeting between high-ranking officials from the United States and Israel, the truth was revealed. Ministers lost their nerves and the government launched an immediate investigation, which expectedly ended without any real results, and also announced that it would re-start the process. To show its level of seriousness, it even established a commission! Twelve months later, the process of deciding which aircraft to buy still hasn't move any further on and is not expected to end for at least another year.

The migrant crisis continued to be in the news this year. The inflow of migrants over the borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia increased somewhat, together with media coverage about alleged brutality of Croatian police and illegal pushbacks of migrants to Bosnia. The authorities were quick to deny everything, but the sheer number of documented cases makes it apparent that at least some of the allegations are founded.

Efforts to limit media freedoms continued this year and some reporters were even briefly arrested. Journalists, NGOs and international organisations stood up to these attempts, but the final score is still unknown.

Repression continued in other ways as well, with courts ruling that peaceful protesters should go to prison, Croatia's human rights situation being criticised from abroad, ethnically-motivated assaults (several of them) taking place, ombudswomen’s warnings not being heard, journalists receiving instructions from the president on what to do, and diplomats spreading hate...

Historical revisionism was in full force once again this year. As a result, representatives of Jews, Serbs and anti-fascist organisations once again boycotted the government’s annual commemoration at the site of the Jasenovac concentration camp.

European elections were held in May (with even Pamela Anderson giving recommendations to Croatian voters). While the ruling HDZ party had high hopes earlier in the year (and was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended one of its rather controversial rallies in Zagreb), the actual results were much tighter and were interpreted by everyone as a success for the opposition (particularly SDP) and a disappointment for the government.

June brought us a few days of excitement when it seemed possible that prime minister Plenković might just succeed in his life-long dream of getting a top EU job. Despite denying he ever wanted such a thing, he was rumoured to be trying to become president of the European Commission (or president of the European Council, or perhaps something else). In the end, he had to return to Croatia empty handed, again denying his alleged attempts.

Unlike Plenković, foreign minister Marija Pejčinović-Burić was more successful in the area of career development. In June, she was elected secretary-general of the Council of Europe. She promptly resigned her post in Croatia and has not been heard about since. Another happy politician is Dubravka Šuica, who has been appointed Croatia’s commissioner in the European Commission.

Mostly good economic news continued. Public debt is at its lowest level in decades, the European Commission concluded that Croatia no longer suffered from excessive economic imbalances, and GDP growth is holding up.

One of the companies which was in the public focus this year was Croatia Airlines, Croatia’s national flag carrier. Its business results were dismal and the search for possible strategic partners was on, but without any real results. The government eventually decided to cover some of the debts, but as the year comes to and end, there is no long-term solution in sight. In the meantime, Zagreb Airport continues to lose airlines using its services.

The construction of an LNG terminal on the island of Krk has apparently started out with strong support from the US government, after many years of delays and announcements. The project is funded from the state budget, since there was no interest among anyone to actually use the terminal. The government claims that there will be interest once the terminal is built, but it would not be the first major government-funded project in Croatia’s history to fail to deliver on its promises.

The construction of Pelješac bridge continues to go at an even faster pace than expected (despite occasional Bosnian protests), mostly thanks to the efforts by the Chinese construction company which won the tender, which also brought about a marked improvement in the relations between Croatia and China. Unfortunately, the construction of the access roads leading up to the bridge has not progressed nearly as fast, with tenders being decided just several months ago. It is quite possible that, when the bridge is built, it will be unusable for a while because there will be no roads leading to it.

Emigration continues amid Croatia's demographic crisis, although somewhat slower than in previous years, probably as a result of the fact that most of those who could have left have already done so. The authorities talk about demographic revival, but nothing much has happened so far.

Political scandals were as numerous as ever. The regional development minister had an accident while driving without a driving license, the agriculture minister forgot to list all his assets on an official statement, the administration minister had his own scandals which were too numerous even to count, and the state assets minister had problems of his own. The Prime minister strongly supported his ministers before some of them resigned, and then he changed his mind and dismissed the rest of them.

The ruling coalition remained stable this year, despite occasional rumours of impending collapse. Ultimatums were rejected, resignations demanded, talks announced, decisions to stay in coalition made, threats given... Just the usual stuff.

As expected, the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia has not been resolved this year. Slovenia was disappointed with the EU’s decision not to get involved in a dispute between its two members. The chances that this issue will feature in our review for 2020 are quite high.

In October, the European Commission announced that Croatia has fulfilled all the technical conditions to join the Schengen area. However, the final decision will require the unanimous support of all EU member states, and Slovenia does not seem ready to give its approval until the border dispute with Croatia is resolved. 

Another major project is the introduction of euro in Croatia. After a lot of talk, the government has finally sent an official request. The process will certainly take years and opinion is divided as to whether it is a good idea or not.

One of the highlights were the trade union's activities. Earlier in the year, the unions managed to collect enough signatures for a referendum against the government’s pension reform and an increase in the retirement age. The government capitulated and revoked already approved laws (although it previously warned that such a decision would be a disaster).

The other major trade union success was the primary and secondary school strike later in the year. After almost two months, the government capitulated and gave the unions more or less everything they had asked for.

One of the highlights of the next six months will be Croatia’s EU presidency. The government is promoting it as a great success, although all EU member states sooner or later get their chance to hold the rotating presidency. While Croatia's plans are ambitious, their delivery will probably be more modest.

The major event at the end of the year was the first round of Croatia's presidential elections.

While the post is largely ceremonial, elections are held every five years and still manage to occupy public attention for months. Three major candidates launched their bids: incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (officially an independent candidate who in reality is HDZ), former SDP prime minister Zoran Milanović, and singer Miroslav Škoro, who presented himself as a candidate of change, despite having been an MP, a diplomat and a former HDZ member.

The first round was held on December 22. Zoran Milanović won with 29.6% of the vote, followed by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović with 26.7%. Škoro was third with 24.5%. Milanović and Grabar-Kitarović will take part in the run-off on January 5.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

NGO Accuses Croatia of Escalation of Police Violence Against Migrants

ZAGREB, December 18, 2019 - The Centre for Peace Studies said on Wednesday that police violence against migrants passing through Croatia on their way towards other EU member-states had escalated this year, and accused the authorities of doing nothing to prosecute unlawful actions by police.

In this context the NGO pointed out the latest testimony of a police officer who accused the police leadership and some officers of resorting to illegal methods so as to avoid the registration of evidence of unlawful push-backs of migrants. He also cited cases of arbitrary detention in garages, separation of family members and unlawful use of dogs to force migrants back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The NGO says in its press release issued on 18 December, which is observed as International Day of Migrants, that their rights are being violated along the border on a daily basis as well as in other parts of Croatia's territory.

Beatings, the use of electroshocks, branding, and shooting at migrants are just some of the methods which the police use to deter migrants, according to this nongovernmental association.

The Centre particularly criticised the Croatian authorities for being persistent in non-prosecuting reported violence.

It says that some other associations and international institutions as well as local and foreign media have warned about such conduct of police officers when fending off border crossers.

In this context it mentioned Border Violence Monitoring Network, Are You Syrious, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN speical rapporteur for human rights of migrants, the Council of Europe, the Croatian human rights ombudswoman and some members of the European Parliament.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Get-Together, Lunch Organised for Syrian Asylees in Karlovac

ZAGREB, December 15, 2019 - The Islamic Community in Karlovac on Saturday organised a get-together and lunch for ten Syrian asylum-seeking families, and the event was also attended by representatives of organisations that help the asylum-seekers in the process of social integration, notably the International Organisation for Migrations and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).

Janko Gredelj of the JRS said that the path of integration was not easy. Asylum-seekers have to continue learning the Croatian language intensively, a process that began at the reception centre for asylum-seekers in Kutina, so that they can prepare for employment and become independent and equal citizens as soon as possible because if they do not integrate over a period of two years, they lose the right to state aid.

"The demand for workers in Croatia is great, 20 asylum-seekers are currently registered with the employment office in Karlovac. The local community has accepted them well, and we have been given an office by the city authorities where our colleague Said al Ahmed, who has been in Croatia for nine years, will assist them on a daily basis so there is no reason for fear," Gredelj said.

Mirjana Pogačić of the Karlovac Social Welfare Centre said they wished the asylees a life of peace, health, joy and love in Karlovac, recalling that Croatians, too, had experienced war and knew how to work with refugees and, generally, with people in need.

"You should know that we share the experience of war with you, that we understand you and that we will do our best to help you overcome all problems you may encounter," Pogačić told the Syrian families.

Renata Kučan of the Karlovac city authorities welcomed the asylees, particularly their children who have already been enrolled in local primary schools.

Teacher Sanja Ravbar said the children have been very well accepted because they are hard-working, motivated and very good at mathematics. She said that the language barrier still existed but that she believed that in time everything would be great.

It was also said that none of the asylum-seekers in Karlovac had complained about the smallest sign of xenophobia and that apart from welcoming words, they were also given concrete assistance, such as free taekwondo lessons for the Syrian children.

The IOM organises the relocation of people in need across the world, and in this specific case, the refugees were relocated from refugee camps in Turkey, said Igor Aničić.

Previous experience has shown that a large number of asylees have left Croatia for other EU countries.

There is nothing bad about it, it is a process in which they are granted practically all civil rights as well as Croatian travel documents, which are also EU travel documents, he said.

Countries are given quotas for refugee integration, during which asylum-seekers obtain all social and other rights, which is followed by the search for employment in line with one's own skills and abilities, said Aničić.

The chief imam in Karlovac, Admir Muhić, said the Syrian asylees were all followers of Sunni Islam just like Croatian Muslims.

He said that the Syrian children would start attending religious instruction, primarily as a way of learning the language as well as to get spiritual and other help.

Bermin Meškić of the Karlovac Islamic community said that Croatia set a positive example with regard to the integration of Muslims, that the Islamic community in Croatia was an integral part of the Croatian society and that Muslims in Croatia wanted the new fellow citizens to integrate well.

"Lately we have also been witnessing negative stories, disturbing news not far from us, on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and today's event is an example of solidarity, humanity and warmth. I wish to believe that we in Croatia will show that face most frequently, I know that that will be so as long as there is a need for Croatia's assistance," said Meškić.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Lack of Language Proficiency Hinders Refugees' Integration in Croatia

ZAGREB, December 11, 2019 - Croatia, which is only building a system for integration of refugees, is achieving good results in their accommodation and employment, but the problem is learning the Croatian language, it was said at a round table discussion in Zagreb on Tuesday.

During the round table, organised by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, JRS head Tvrtko Barun said that when it came to accommodation, Croatia could serve as a positive example in the European Union, but noted that in recent years the language had become a serious obstacle.

Since 2006, when Croatia introduced the asylum system, slightly over 900 foreigners have been given international protection, and in the meantime some 300 of them have left Croatia.

Giuseppe DiCara of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, praised the integration of refugees in the Croatian labour market and their accommodation, and pointed to problems in studying the Croatian language.

The problem lies with the Croatian language, we are trying, in cooperation with the Interior Ministry and the Education Minister, to solve this problem, he added.

Donya Spanta, an asylee from Iran, said she had noticed a lack of support for the full integration of asylum seekers into Croatian society because of their lack of knowledge of the Croatian language. She said she personally had no problems because she speaks English, but that other people at the centre for refugees were very isolated in their small communities.

More news about the refugee crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Police Still Bringing Migrants to Camp Near Croatian Border

ZAGREB, December 9, 2019 - Police in the Una-Sana canton of northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday continued bringing migrants to the makeshift Vučjak camp outside Bihać despite last week's announcements that the camp would be dismantled as totally unsuitable for accommodation of migrants, local media said.

A group of migrants was transferred to Vučjak from a dilapidated former metal factory in Bihać on Monday morning.

An estimated 600 illegal migrants are currently staying in the Vučjak camp, situated on a former landfill near a minefield close to the Croatian border.

Last week Security Minister Dragan Mektić and the head of cantonal government, Mustafa Ružnić, agreed to close down the camp and transfer its occupants to other camps, such as Bira and Miral which meet the basic conditions for accommodation of migrants during wintertime, or to a new reception centre in Blažuj, near Sarajevo, which is not yet fit to take them in.

The head of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Peter Van der Auweraert, told N1 television that there was still no official confirmation of how and when the Mektić-Ružnić agreement would be carried out.

Under the agreement, the refugees would not be relocated by IOM but by police.

Residents of Blažuj are opposed to the plan and have announced to take all the necessary measures to prevent the relocation, including by blocking access to the former army barracks which would serve as a temporary shelter for about 350 migrants.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

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