Migrants marching from Belgrade to Croatian border on the Belgrade-Zagreb highway. Photo/EPA Archive
Migrants marching from Belgrade to Croatian border on the Belgrade-Zagreb highway. Photo/EPA Archive

Croatian media have reported the emergence of a new 'Balkan route' used by migrants to reach western Europe without passing through Macedonia and Serbia.

Middle Eastern migrants have opened up a new 'Balkan route' in their attempt to find a better life in western Europe after the traditional route through Macedonia and Serbia was closed. This is according to a report by Zagreb newspaper Jutarnji list. 

From Greece, the new route takes them through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. 

Little-known route 

"Though little is still said about this route, it is increasingly used by migrants and is at the same time seeing a growing number of victims," the newspaper reports. Once in Bosnia Herzegovina, the migrants use buses, taxis and other means to reach Velika Kladusa on the border with Croatia, from where they cross to Karlovac before crossing the Kupa river into Slovenia. 

Most of the migrants using this route are Afghans, Pakistanis and Syrians, but there are also north Africans from Algeria and Morocco. 

Croatia 'turning people away', NGO says 

A humanitarian organization operating in Zagreb has reported that Croatia recently returned a family of migrants to Serbia, in breach of their right to international protection as potential asylum seekers. The organization "Are You Syrious" claims that Croatian police made eight people from the Middle East return to Serbia after they had spent months on the border, even though UNHCR and the other authorities were aware of their intention to request asylum in Croatia. 

It alleges that the police used force to expel the asylum seekers, hitting the mother and obliging the family to spend an entire night outside in the cold. Father Tvrtko Barun, head of a Jesuit organization working with refugees in southeast Europe, says that numerous other cases of refoulement have been reported and has invited the Croatian judicial authorities to investigate. 

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