Tech & Rights

Croatian Activists Warn of EU's Restrictive Migration Policy

A symbolic protest action was held in Zagreb on June 20 to mark World Refugee Day. The event included a tribute to the many thousands of refugees who have died trying to reach Europe and a call for more scrutiny of the EU's migration policies.

by Danela Žagar
Image: Amnesty International

World Refugee Day was observed in Zagreb on June 20 with a symbolic performance that displayed "dead bodies" accompanied by a reading of the names of people who lost their lives in the Mediterranean, whose number has risen to 2,000 since the start of 2015.

The organizers of the event called for greater solidarity with refugees, as well as for a critical attitude to the EU's border regime and migration policies.

"The purpose of today's action is to send a message to the public and warn it of a growing number of migrant refugees who die at Europe's door, mostly in the Mediterranean, and to make our European parliamentarians aware of the negative aspects of restrictive European border policies and urge them to use their power and advocate change and greater solidarity with refugees, both on the European and national levels," an activist of the Centre for Peace Studies, Lucija Mulalic, said.

She said that in the last 10 years, Croatia received 5,000 asylum applications and approved around 150. Asylum can be granted on three grounds: if a person is persecuted in their country of origin because of their political beliefs; because of race; or because they belong to a social group that is not accepted in that country. Lately, applications falling into the last category have been submitted by homosexuals, Mulalic said.

'Witch-hunts'

The World Refugee Day event, called "Evaded Death. The Fortress Europe: Clean and Responsible. How Many Deaths to Solidarity?", was attended by volunteers of the Centre for Peace Studies, students of peace studies, members of the No Border initiative, of Medika and of White Angels — groups that work directly and indirectly with refugees in Croatia.

They said that 2,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean since the start of this year and 29,000 since the year 2000. Even though the EU's migration policy is implemented under the slogan "Justice, Freedom and Security," in reality the EU is closing its external borders and internally pursuing "witch-hunts," they said.

Solidarity

In Croatia, too, refugees are isolated in camps on the outskirts of cities, where they encounter racist attacks, humiliating acts, restriction of movement and dehumanizing deportations, the activists said.

Croatia has received more than two billion euros through the Schengen fund to improve its border control and build additional detention centers. Building one such center costs around 3.3 million euros, they said.

"On World Refugee Day, we call for the need to adopt a critical attitude to the EU's border regime and migration policy and urge more solidarity and understanding for people with the same destiny as ours 20 years ago," they said.

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