Contributed by Lily Parrott, co-editor, Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter
Croatia will officially become the 28th EU member state as of July 2013. Its location means it is becoming increasingly popular for migrants passing along the ‘Balkan route of migration’ from Serbia to Western Europe. Due to the Dublin Regulation stating that asylum seekers must lodge an application at their first point of entry to the EU, once Croatia is an official EU member, the number of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants is likely to increase sharply. However to date, it has no clear migration policy and some experts fear what would happen with such an influx:
‘the system is unprepared to accept a higher number of refugees with satisfactory reception standards and appropriate procedures. Despite Croatia having made extensive use of the EU funds available to improve its asylum system, most resources and efforts have been directed at developing mechanisms for border policing including the acquisition of hi-tech equipment for sophisticated border control…Creating the conditions for effective border control and illegal migration seems to be a priority over peace building and respecting the human rights of refugees.’
Croatia’s migration policy as it stands, which has not been updated since 2007, will not be able to handle refugees in accordance with EU requirements, as legislation is inconsistent and non-comprehensive. For example, Croatia only recognises two categories of people: citizens and foreigners, leaving refugees and foreigners under subsidiary protection open to exploitation. Further, Croatia has seen a rise in xenophobic attitudes, with 25% of the population considering it unacceptable for their children to marry a person of a different race, religion or nationality. This means that the political parties in charge need to increase their focus on the issue of migration and asylum before they can consider themselves a fully fledged EU member state.
 ‘Migration, Croatia New Transit Country on Way to Western Europe’ (31 May, 2012), trans. by Mandi Gueguen, Les Couriers des Balkans.
 ‘Croatia on the Balkan Migration Route’ (7 June, 2012), Rolandi, Francesca, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso.
 Julija Kranjek in: ‘Croatia on the Balkan Migration Route’, Rolandi.
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