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HINA - Frontex coming to Croatia-Bosnia border




ZAGREB, Dec 13 (Hina) - Teams of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) are soon to arrive on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the migrant pressure, European Commissioner Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis said on Thursday and added that the greatest responsibility for the situation on the border lies with Sarajevo and Zagreb.
Negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina concerning the deployment of FRONTEX teams have been completed and an agreement will be signed soon. That agreement will enable border police to manage the border between Bosnia and Croatia, however, the most important responsibility is in the hands of those two countries, Andriukaitis said during a debate on the status of migrants in Bosnia currently located near the border with the European Union.
Andriukaitis recalled that currently there are 5,139 migrants and asylum seekers being cared for in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Of that number, 3,126 are located in the canton in the northwest of the country near the border with Croatia and about 1,000 migrants have still not requested assistance, he said in a plenary session of the European Parliament during a debate on the issue, moved by Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic (IDS/ALDE).
According to Andriukaitis, since June this year, the European Union has provided Bosnia and Herzegovina with two million euro in humanitarian aid and 7.2 million euro through special measures and instruments for pre-accession support, and all the measures are being implemented with the assistance of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), UNHCR and UNICEF.
Commission monitoring whether Croatian police abusing migrants
Over the past few weeks, 180 additional police officers have been deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve security at the border, Andriukaitis added.
Relations between border police and migrants seem to be positive overall, as EU officials have reported, Andriukaitis said but recalled that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a transit country and the majority of migrants are attempting to cross the border every day.
He said that there was information that Croatian police were abusing migrants on the border with Bosnia, adding that the EC was actively monitoring developments and had informed Croatian authorities of those accusations.
He stressed that the agreement on readmission should be applied to migrants who illegally cross the EU border.
It should be applied without questioning the right to asylum and the obligations that arise from international law, particularly the principle of banning forced readmission, he added.
We all agree that the border between Bosnia and Croatia is the EU's external border and Croatia is responsible to manage that border, he said.
Measures on the EU's external border have to be proportional, they must fulfill fundamental human rights, Andriukaitis said, adding that he was convinced that Croatian authorities would take these accusations seriously and investigate them quickly and thoroughly.
In the ensuing debate, MEP Jakovcic said that he had proposed the debate because of the migrants' difficult situation but also because of the problems facing the local population. He added that the situation was chaotic because on the one hand Croatia was being called out because not everything was quite right with regard to the treatment of migrants while on the other hand, it was expected to protect the EU border.
He added that this was a huge challenge for the European Commission and thanked it for the help it had provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the way it was helping Croatia.
MEP Dubravka Suica (HDZ/EPP) recalled that Croatia was preparing to enter the Schengen area and that Croatian police were doing their best to facilitate the country's entry to that area, and did their work in line with regulations.
She added that the latest data indicated that the number of migrants at the border was 57% higher than last year, with 6,415 more migrants, and warned of the problem of Bosnia and Herzegovina's relaxed visa regime with third countries.
"Bosnia and Herzegovina's relaxing its visa regime with certain third countries, primarily Turkey, has led to an increase in the number of illegal entries from Bosnia," she said.
"In any case, it is a fact that work is being done to protect Bosnia and Herzegovina's border, and Albania's and Montenegro's, too, however, Croatia has more border police than all three countries together," she underlined and added that it was necessary to strengthen the asylum system in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other Western Balkan countries.
MEP Tonino Picula, (SDP/S&D), recalled that Croatia has the longest EU land border and that it has not raised razor-wire fences like its neighbours.
He underscored that the 6,500 migrants currently in Bosnia and Herzegovina were staying in improvised accommodation close to Croatia's border, which increases the chances of illegal crossing.
He too said that as a member of the Union, Croatia expected to join the Schengen Area as soon as possible and was aware that migration was a global challenge and had therefore supported the UN Global Compact.
(Hina) sp

Agency : HINA

Date : 2018-12-15 11:36:17







 

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