Since 2015, Croatia has been known as a transit country for refugees trying to reach Western Europe. The closure of the so-called Balkan corridor and the fact that Croatia is now a member of the Schengen Area have tightened border controls and migration management mechanisms.
Croatia has around 1000km long border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and 300 km long border with Serbia. Recently, a lot of funds from the European Union went into the process of strengthening the border controls, especially since the more significant number of refugees are stranded in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Although Croatia, in its history, had the experience of war (the breakdown of Yugoslavia), the public discourse is still filled with negative perceptions towards refugees coming from the South.
Due to the closed borders and lack of solidarity among the Members of the European Union, Bosnia and Herzegovina became a hot-spot. Thus some refugees coming from Bosnia want to apply for international protection in Croatia, primarily because it is the closest and geographically most reachable country of the EU.
However, since 2017, there is an increasing number of pushbacks conducted by the Croatian police from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina. These push backs often happen regardless of people’s intention to apply for asylum. You can find more information about this issue in section Pushbacks.
In Croatia, there are two different types of international protection; these are refugee status and subsidiary protection. You can apply for international protection at the border, at the police station, at the first police officer that you see, or at the Reception Centre. You can find additional information on the right to international or subsidiary protection in the section Asylum.
Several organizations provide support to asylum seekers and refugees in Croatia. These organizations offer legal counseling, integration work-shops, or non-formal language courses. You can find these organizations under the section Contacts.
Work is usually the fastest tool for integration, and it allows refugees to rebuild their lives and reach financial independence. Unfortunately, the law restrictions can slow down this process. You can find more information under the section Work.
Given the fact that currently there are a lot of unaccompanied minors on the move, which is a specific vulnerable group, there are several measures in place within the Croatian system that should protect them and give them needed assistance. However, unaccompanied minors face great struggles on their journey and experience illegal and violent push backs on the Croatian borders. You can read more about the struggles and difficulties, and the current system of protection of unaccompanied minors under section Minors.