Local authorities in east Croatia fear humanitarian disaster


As many as 14,052 migrants were recorded entering Croatia from Serbia until 9 am Friday, and the Health Ministry has decided to raise the preparedness level of health services in east Croatia, which is overwhelmed by migrants fleeing the Middle East and northern Africa while heading towards western Europe.

“The situation in Tovarnik regarding migrants is better today than yesterday, but we are still concerned as migrants are arriving all the time,” Vukovar County head Bozo Galic, who is at the helm of the county task force for civilian protection, said on Friday after the task force held a meeting in Tovarnik, one of the border towns bearing the brunt of the migrant wave.

Galic called for a temporary closure of the border, explaining that the current “humanitarian crisis” might grow into a disaster.

“The situation regarding migrants should be solved in agreement with the European Union, I believe that the border should be closed at least temporarily,” Galic said.

Tovarnik Mayor Ruza Veselcic Sijakovic said that the situation is becoming more and more cumbersome.

“We are an area where the main activity is agriculture. Locals want to go to their fields but migrants are everywhere. Local people are starting to be afraid, as migrants are incessantly arriving through fields, she said, explaining that the local community fears of outbreaks of contagious diseases due to a lack of hygienic sanitary facilities.

Currently, there are several thousand migrants in that eastern Croatian border town whose population is 1,500. Although official border crossings were closed on Friday, migrants used unofficial routes through cornfields and orchards to enter Croatia’s territory. The locals have called on the government to step up controls along the border.

A Croatian expert in security matters, Vlatko Cvrtila, said in Zagreb on Friday that deploying the army or a higher number of police officers along the country’s frontiers would not solve the issue. “Let’s remember Macedonia and Hungary. That hasn’t solved the problem,” Cvrtila, a university professor said.

The trade union of police officers on Friday accused Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic of having demonstrated incompetence in tackling the influx of migrants.

The trade union also asked for more police officers on the ground.