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Number of illegal immigrants increasing rapidly: Croatia

In comparison to 2017, the number of migrants entering Croatia this time illegally has increased by two-thirds | C. Rich Imagery

The migration crisis has been on the rise in Europe during the past few years, with an increase especially in illegal migration through the Balkan countries. In comparison to 2017, the number of migrants entering Croatia this time illegally has increased by two-thirds, said the Croatia news.

According to police, it is expected that five counties inside Croatia will find themselves on the migrant route during the spring of 2018. These include Osijek-Baranja, Vukovar-Srijem, Karlovak, Lika-Senj, and Sisak-Moslavina; which might be the top most areas through which illegal migrants try to reach Western Europe.

As the source reported, a total of 1,371 persons were caught in attempts to cross Croatia’s border illegally during the first quarter of 2018. This is estimated as an increase of 72 per cent in comparison to last year. Not only the number of illegal immigrants has increased, but also the number of asylum seekers; where 292 people have applied for asylum in Croatia from January to March 2018.

In September 2015, the Croatian government said that the country cannot take in any more migrants at that time, as riot police clashed with people entering the EU country from Serbia.

Croatia’s interior minister, Ranko Ostojić, said back then that Croatia would provide migrants and refugees with safe passage to reception centres around the capital, Zagreb, but that those not seeking asylum would be considered illegal immigrants.

There has been an increase in both asylum applications and illegal entries. However, whether all these people are actually going to stay remains an open question. According to statistics from the Croatian Home Office, most refugees leave Croatia before receiving the final decision on their asylum application, which suggests that they perceive Croatia as a transit country.

According to statistics from Croatia's Ministry of the Interior, the largest number of illegal migrants enter Croatia from Serbia, in the Vukovar-Srijem county, which is on the so-called "Balkan route". Most illegal migrants leave the country throuth the border with Slovenia in the counties of Zagreb and Primorsko-Goranska. There are several ramifications of this "Balkan route" and those trafficking in human beings often abandon migrants in Croatia, telling them they are already in Western Europe.