last update: August 2014
Like with other countries in the area of Western Balkans, Croatia has been for most of recent history a country of emigration. During the war following the breakdown of Yugoslavia, there were both a lot Yugoslav refugees coming to Croatia, as well as leaving Croatia – this is why the term “izbjeglica” (meaning “refugee”) is reserved in the public discourse for Yugoslav refugees from the war in the 1990s. The term used for people who have received a refugee status by going through the asylum system in the recent decade, is “azilanti”, or “asylum-ers” – which is very confusing as this is the term used for asylum seekers in most other countries in the Western Balkans.
Croatia got its independent asylum system in 2004, as part of fulfilling conditions for joining the EU. For the first several years, it was primarily a country of transit: migrants stayed there for some time, then continued to the countries of the EU. However, since Croatia joined the EU in July 2013, it became part of the Dublin III deportation system. Besides, it developed stronger border controls and migration management mechanisms. As a consequence, more people stay in Croatia. However, getting a legal status through seeking asylum is very difficult, as are integration and finding work
FOOTNOTE: By mid-2014, only 118 people received international protection, out of this only 57 received refugee status. For more and fresh statistical data, see websites of the UNHCR here: http://www.unhcr.hr/2012-12-20-09-46-40/statistics and statistics of the Ministry of the Interior here: http://www.mup.hr/UserDocsImages/statistika/2014/azil/azil_do_20.5.2014..pdf.