izbjeglice-opatovac.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Ivo LUČIĆ/ ds

The "Welcome" initiative on Wednesday presented a report based on stories told at the Belgrade railway station by refugees en route to Austria and Germany who did not manage to pass the Balkan route and who claimed that "Croatian authorities conducted systematic violence and Croatian police used physical force against them," which is supported by photographs received from refugees.

Four activists of the "Welcome" initiative collected stories and interviews at the railway station in Belgrade from 11 - 26 January from refugees who, according to European regulations since November last year cannot enter European Union countries because they do not come from war-affected countries, that is, Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.

One activist told a press conference that between 200 and 500 refugees have been stranded at the railway station and bus terminal in Belgrade. The report was compiled based on accounts given by about one hundred refugees while the main part of the report is based on testimonies by five refugees from Morocco and one each from Somalia and Pakistan.

They said that they had attempted several times over the past few months to enter Croatia from Serbia, however, Croatia had sent them back each time because they did not have proper documents and they were now stranded in Belgrade.

They claimed that official interpreters in Croatia would make arbitrary decisions after conducting interviews with them. "They would identify themselves as Syrians, Iraqis or Afghans, however, the interpreters would tell them that they did not speak that dialect and that would be sufficient to have them returned to Serbia," one activist, Selma Banich, said, underscoring that this was racial discrimination and a violation of human rights.

Another activist, Tea Vidovic, said that they had advised former interior minister Ranko Ostojic that news was spreading that "prior to registration at the refugee centre in Slavonski Brod, Croatian police were, with the assistance of interpreters, separating refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq from the rest who were then detained for several hours, some up to 24 hours."

The activists assessed that despite the measures taken by the EU to slow down the influx of refugees to Europe, the migration would not stop and that harsher asylum legislation in EU countries was resulting in a domino effect in countries along the Balkan route.

The initiative appealed to European leaders to look for a more humane response and to use the mechanism of temporary protection that was designed in response to the mass influx of displaced persons seeking protection in Europe.

Latest news

19-year-old men arrested for putting up anti-Serb stickers in Vukovar, minister condemns incident

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man, suspected of putting up anti-Serb stickers reading  "Serbian Family Tree" with an image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the World War II Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), at bus stops along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.

Britain faces highest terrorism threat since 1970s, official says

Britain faces its highest threat of terrorism since the 1970s, when the Irish Republican Army planned a series of bomb attacks, a legal official said on Sunday.

Monitor: Syrian regime forces killed in fighting near Lebanon border

Dozens of Syrian regime troops were killed and injured in an attack on Sunday by hardline jihadists led by an al-Qaeda-linked group near the Lebanese border, a monitor said.

Anarchist riots hit central Athens district

Clashes broke out between Greek police and self-styled anarchists in a central Athens neighbourhood early Sunday.

Thousands more affected by noise under Berlin flight route change

Thousands more residents in Berlin could be affected by aircraft noise due to changes in a flight route to a long-delayed new international airport.

Details emerge on Heidelberg car-ramming as police seek motive

The car used to ram into crowds in the south-western German town of Heidelberg was rented in Hamburg, police said Sunday, as they continued to search for a motive for the incident.

Fire at asylum seeker accommodation in Sweden

A fire overnight at an accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Sweden caused injuries to at least a dozen residents, police said on Sunday.

Analysts: Croatia's economy rises 3.3%, hitting new high since 2008

Croatia's economy expanded 3.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2016, compared to Q4 2015, according to projections of economic analysts polled by Hina, who ascribe this record high rise to increasing personal consumption, higher industrial output rates and growing investments.

Fate of German hostage in Philippines unknown as deadline passes

The fate of a 70-year-old German man held captive for three months in the southern Philippines was unknown after a deadline for a ransom to be paid passed Sunday, a military spokesman said.

Dengue fever risk growing in Thailand, authorities say

Dengue fever is posing a greater threat in Thailand, particularly in the southern region, the country's Disease Control Department said Sunday, as the number of people killed by the mosquito-borne disease this year stands at six.

Brexit fears plague locals and expats alike in southern Spain

As Britain's departure from the EU approaches, the anxiety is most palpable on Spain's Costa del Sol, where so many Britons live. What will happen to the economy if the expats one day have to leave?

'La La Land,' politics to share spotlight at Oscars

The Oscars will take the stage Sunday for an awards ceremony whose outcome feels like a foregone conclusion - a win, or 10, for "La La Land."