Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure

Croatia

Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 12/01/21

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In Croatia there are no official policies implemented with regard to nationals of particular countries, as every application is examined individually and on a case by case basis.

Resettlement pledges

Based on the 2015 Decision on relocation and resettlement of third-country nationals or stateless persons who meet the conditions for approval of international protection, Croatia has committed to accept 150 people through resettlement. Due to the high number of people who withdrew from the process during the selection missions, this quota was filled in October 2018 following four selection missions. By way of illustration, another mission took place in February 2019, during which 141 Syrian refugees identified by UNHCR were interviewed and 103 selected for resettlement.[1]

In addition, Croatia continued to implement the 2017 Decision on resettlement of third-country nationals or stateless persons who meet the conditions for approval of international protection, which requires Croatia to accept up to 100 persons.

A new Decision on resettlement of third-country nationals or stateless persons who meet the conditions for approval of international protection for 2019 entered into force in February 2019.[2] The Decision prescribes that Croatia will accept up to 150 persons through resettlement or shall participate in other forms of solidarity with EU Member States.  

In May 2019, in the framework of the Croatian resettlement programme, 50 Syrian citizens arrived in the Reception Centre of Kutina. Four representatives of the Ministry of the Interior participated in the study visit from 24-28 June 2019 as part of the resettlement programme. The study visit aimed to exchange experiences and best practices with Portuguese colleagues while Portugal was conducting a selection mission in Turkey, Ankara.[3]

According to the Ministry of Interior, the seventh group of refugees from Turkey arrived in Croatia as part of the European Resettlement Program on 21 August 2019. The group consisted of 8 families i.e 41 citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic, of whom 24 are minors.[4] 7 Syrian nationals (2 families) arrived on 30 August 2019. As a result, Croatia has fulfilled its pledge within the EU resettlement scheme to effectively resettle 250 Syrian refugees from Turkey, according to the Decisions on Relocation and Resettlement of Third-country Nationals or Stateless Persons Eligible for International Protection from 2015 (150 persons) and 2017 (100 persons).[5]

Although the Ministry of Interior reported in previous years that they do not keep statistics on the average duration of the resettlement process, they stated that the procedure from the receipt of the file from UNHCR to the transfer of refugees to Croatia lasts about 6 months on average.

Resettlement procedure

According to the Ministry of Interior provided at the beginning of 2019 the resettlement procedure is conducted as follows:[6]

 

  1. The Ministry of Interior receives files from UNHCR. The Security Intelligence Agency performs a security check for all people for whom resettlement has been proposed. The Ministry, in cooperation with implementing partners, conducts a selection mission to Turkey during which interviews with all adult persons are conducted to assess the conditions for approval of international protection. Also, a medical examination is organised by IOM. After the interview and medical examination, which usually last one day, the next day is envisaged for cultural orientation sessions of 4 to 6 hours.

 

  1. Upon the return of Ministry of Interior officials to Croatia, proposals of the decision on accepting or rejecting the persons are drafted and UNHCR and IOM are informed as soon as possible about the decision. UNHCR informs persons of the Ministry’s decision. After that, the transfer of accepted persons to Croatia is organised by IOM. Before the trip, IOM conducts “fit to travel” checks for all accepted persons.

 

  1. Upon arrival in Croatia persons have to express their intention to apply for international protection and are accommodated in the Reception Centre for Applicants of International Protection in Kutina, until private accommodation is arranged. Usually, a decision is taken within 2 to 3 weeks from the date of their arrival in Croatia. Upon the arrival in Croatia, implementing partners start with the integration of persons into Croatian society.

However, there is no updated official information on the resettlement procedure throughout 2019 from the Ministry of Interior. It is thus unclear whether these 3 steps are still being followed and whether the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) now offers support in activities that were previously supported by IOM.

In January 2019, the Ministry of Interior and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) signed an agreement that foresees that ICMC will provide its expertise and services for resettlement operations of refugees living in Turkey. The agreement is valid for over 12 months. ICMC staff who specialise in providing cultural orientation to refugees before they departure to Turkey are working with Croatian government officials on a new interactive program to facilitate the successful integration of resettled refugees. The cultural orientation activity is being implemented in cooperation with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) of Croatia and introduces refugees to Croatian culture, while imparting realistic expectations about services, opportunities, and responsibilities. ICMC staff assist Croatian government officials when they interview resettlement candidates in Istanbul, offering interpretation services and coordinating medical screenings. ICMC also coordinates travel to and accommodation in Istanbul, as refugees are spread across the country and need to travel to that city for interviews, medical screenings and cultural orientation. [7]

Moreover, in 2019, integration support for resettled refugees in Croatia was coordinated by a partnership agreement between the Ministry of the Interior and JRS. The agreement foresees co-operation in the field of integration of resettled persons from Turkey at the end of December 2018.The agreement was concluded for 13 months and is the basis for admitting the remaining 100 refugees. According to the agreement, reception and integration activities are to be managed by the JRS, and the Ministry of the Interior co-finances the process through €430,000.00 from European funding.[8] JRS was contracted to provide both pre-departure and post-integration support.[9]

JRS offers a pre-departure cultural orientation programme, developed with the Ministry of Interior and ICMC. Upon arrival in Croatia, refugees live in a reception centre for eight weeks, where they participate in another cultural orientation programme and a basic Croatian language course. The newcomers then move to individual housing in the municipalities of Sisak and Karlovac, where JRS has worked to prepare the local communities. JRS organised several awareness raising events to ensure that local stakeholders (government, religious organizations, sport associations, etc.) are included in the integration process, and to mobilise a network of volunteers so that local citizens are also involved in providing support. They also informed landlords about refugee resettlement in order to mitigate prejudices. After refugees arrived, JRS hosted a number of community events to bring people together and get to know each other.[10]

At the end of March 2019, ICMC, with the support of the Ministry and Jesuit Refugee Service Croatia (JRS), organised a three-day Cultural Orientation Programme providing information on rights, obligations and cultural values, that all accepted refugees need to attend.[11]

In February 2019 Initiative Welcome reported that more effort is needed when it comes to social inclusion of resettled refugees as some who were resettled already left Croatia.[12]

 


[1] SHARE, Integration Magazine, April 2019, available in English at: https://bit.ly/2xyKwOm.

[2] Official Gazette 16/2019.

[3] EMN, Bulletin, July 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2xQ8zrO.

[4] Ministry of Interior, ‘The arrival of the seventh group of Syrian refugees from Turkey’, 21 August 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3c181hL.

[5] EMN, Bulletin, November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/34iMWN8.

[6] Information received from the Ministry of Interior, 28 January 2019.

[7] ICMC, ‘ICMC Assists Croatia’s Efforts to Resettle Refugees’, available at: https://bit.ly/3aLFzQt.

[8] Ministry of Interior, ‘Agreement on cooperation in the field of integration of displaced persons’, 27 December 2018, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2yDKqVU.

[9] SHARE, Integration Magazine, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/39MPpQW.

[10] SHARE, Expanding Resettlement across Europe: From Policy to Practice, October 2019 available at: https://bit.ly/3e0KmiX.

[11] EMN, Bulletin, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2UMYxRp.

[12] Information provided by Initiative Welcome on 1 February 2019.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation