Tuesday 24 April 2018

Croatia looks to deploy army to 'ease migrant crisis'

A refugee from Afghanistan waiting for a permission to cross the border at Macedonia Credit: Boris Grdanoski
A refugee from Afghanistan waiting for a permission to cross the border at Macedonia Credit: Boris Grdanoski
Refugees from Afghanistan walk towards Serbia Credit: Boris Grdanoski

Igor Ilic

Croatia might deploy its army top help control migrant flows in response to the refugee crisis, says Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic.

"If it becomes necessary to use the army, we will activate that option.

"It would be an assistance in easing procedure," Mr Oreskovic told a news conference in Berlin after meeting German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Read More: 10,000 migrants stranded at Greece-Macedonia border

Neighbouring Slovenia approved such a move last month after amending existing laws.

Croatia would have to follow a similar process to do likewise.

Mr Oreskovic said Croatia favoured a European Union-wide solution to the migrant crisis.

Read More: Greece prepares floating migrant shelters as borders tighten

Since last September more than 650,000 migrants have passed through Croatia towards western Europe, primarily Germany, but border restrictions imposed by countries along the Balkan route have led to a build-up of new arrivals in Greece.

Elsewhere the European Union is proposing increased humanitarian aid for Greece, where more than 20,000 refugees and migrants are stuck.

The European Commission, the EU executive, said on Tuesday it will put forward a plan on Wednesday to offer emergency financial assistance for humanitarian crises inside the 28-nation bloc, comparable with operations it has launched elsewhere in the world.

The Commission's spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, told a regular news briefing in Brussels that the plan was necessary "to prevent humanitarian suffering as a result of an unprecedented number of people arriving in the EU".

Read More: Austria and Balkan nations 'want full stop to migrant influx'

Schinas said the Commission was very concerned with the outbreak of violence at the Greek-Macedonian border. He was speaking as the bloc is gearing up to a summit on Monday with Turkey, the main departure site for the vast majority of people heading to Europe.

More than a million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe last year -- mostly via Turkey to Greece -- and another 130,000 have reached the continent so far in 2016.

Overwhelmed, Greece and other countries along the main migration route have tended to wave the people through and the influx has brought Europe's Schengen zone of free travel to the verge of collapse.


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