Saturday

21st Sep 2019

EU-bound migrants at risk of land mines in Croatia

  • Croatian minefield sign (Photo: Dmitry Klimenko)

People trying to walk to the EU via Croatia, after Hungary sealed its border, risk straying into old minefields, a Facebook group has warned.

Croatian media reports say hundreds of refugees have begun crossing the border from Sid, in north-west Serbia, to Tovarnik, in Croatia following Hungary’s move on Tuesday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The new arrivals are making their way into Croatia in an orderly manner.

But Croatian people have warned them, on Facebook and Wikipedia , of the dangers of Balkan War-era minefields.

The Facebook site, called “Dear Refugees: Welcome to Croatia”, said, in English and Arabic: “If you're about to make the trip to Europe through Croatia please read here. Beware of minefields!”.

It also published maps showing red zones, mostly in north-east Croatia, which contain up to 60,000 unexploded mines.

Croatian authorities have sent de-mining experts to the Serbian border area, the BBC reports, and mine zones are marked with danger signs.

But mines have killed more than 500 people since the war ended in 1995.

For his part, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said on Wednesday that he is happy to give the refugees free passage.

"These people … don’t want to come to Croatia or Hungary either and that is why I don’t understand where the problem is of letting them pass through”, he said.

Neighbouring Slovenia is also welcoming migrants.

It has stepped up checks on its Croatian and Hungarian borders and it has reception capacity for just 5,000 to 7,000 people.

But Sefic Bostjan, Slovenian state secretary, has said his country will take care of all refugee arrivals, according to Hungarian news agency MTI.

He added that Slovenia will uphold Schengen zone obligations by transporting migrants to other EU states only if the host states agree to take them.

Slovenia joined the EU passport-free Schengen area in 2007. Croatia has yet to join.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian border clampdown prompted chaotic scenes on Wednesday.

Migrants stuck in Serbia briefly broke through Hungary's barrier but were intercepted by riot police. Police also used tear-gas and water cannon against people throwing bottles and stones.

The Western Balkan developments come against a backdrop of Schengen border crackdowns.

Austria, on Wednesday, reintroduced border controls with Slovenia, Hungary, and Italy.

Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia took similar action earlier this week.

The day borders came back to Europe

First Germany, then Austria, and now the Czech Republic and Slovakia have begun reinforcing border controls due to the migrant crisis, in a big blow to EU free movement.

Croatia puts migrants on buses to Hungary

Croatia started ferrying refugees to Hungary by bus on Friday, saying it can't cope any more, while also suspending EU rules on registration of newcomers.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us