Europe faces unprecedented influx of refugees since World War II, says interior minister
ZAGREB, March 2, 2022 – Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that Europe would face an influx of refugees unprecedented since World War II, and no country could cope with it alone.
According to figures from Frontex last night, more than 600,000 Ukrainians have entered the EU, he told Croatian radio.
The influx is not yet large as UNHCR and other agencies estimate that five million people could leave Ukraine, Božinović added.
This is a humanitarian situation that is becoming dramatic and can only be addressed if everyone stands together, he said.
Speaking about the meetings of EU interior ministers and what they needed to agree on, Božinović said there was a need to resolve the refugee status first, as more and more refugees would arrive . “It is an exodus to which we will have to find an adequate response.”
545 Ukrainian refugees in Croatia so far
Božinović said 545 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Croatia and 39 were in reception centers, while the rest were in private accommodation.
He said Croatia needed to prepare for a major influx as nearly 100,000 had entered Hungary. It is difficult to expect Russia to stop for now as it prepares for a bigger escalation with attacks on Kiev, Kharkiv and Mariupol, he added.
Božinović said that the whole civil protection system was preparing, as well as the health and education systems, so that the arrival of the refugees happened with as little difficulty as possible.
Accommodation capacity will be increased as needed, there are plans to use many state-owned facilities and meetings are underway with the Croatian Tourist Board, hoteliers and the Ministry of Tourism, it said. -he adds.
Božinović went on to say that the first relief convoy from Croatia left for Ukraine at 3am today and such things should be well organized by the institutions in charge.
Europe has no alternative but to defend its values
Commenting on Russia’s threat that countries donating military equipment to Ukraine, including Croatia, would be held accountable, he said that not only NATO member states, but also neutral countries, had decided to do it.
“Today we are witnessing a paradigm shift in force in Europe since World War II and the determination that everything Europe has achieved should not be called into question,” Božinović said, adding that By this time, the EU had become the most developed part of the world alongside the United States, a region where human rights are protected and where technology and living standards are advancing.
“If someone threatens this, and it is a threat, he will have to face a very clear and tough European response because Europe has no alternative but to defend its values.”
Speaking about fears that some are using the Ukraine crisis to destabilize southeastern Europe, Božinović said there were always those who were interested in destabilization, those who thought their only trump card was strength and weaponry. , and that one could see in Ukraine that stability did not suit them.
As for South Eastern Europe, he said the most important stakeholders had sent messages to all countries in the region and he was sure they would consider them well.
Being in Europe and not moving towards integration is not smart
Commenting on the position of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who has not imposed sanctions on Russia and blames Croatian politicians, Božinović said “this is rhetoric we are used to”.
“Now is the time for doubting states to make the best long-term decisions for the future of their citizens because being in Europe and not moving towards integration is not the smartest thing to do” , he added.
Božinović also said he expected the political unity of opposition and power in Ukraine to continue in Croatia.
The position of the government is clear and one of the first visits of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was to Ukraine, which is only a sign of knowledge of the situation and the importance of Ukraine for Europe and our bilateral relations, he added.
Speaking on the coronavirus, he said there were around 2,500 new cases today, 33% less than a week ago, a sign the steep decline was continuing.
“If these trends continue, we will consider easing restrictions further,” said Božinović, who heads the national COVID-19 crisis management team.
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