Migrants protest after reported attacks in Zagreb

Pro-refugee graffiti. Greece, September 2015. [Anne Wuyts/Flickr]

Around 50 migrants staged a protest in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Monday (2 January) claiming they have suffered attacks by unknown assailants, state-run HRT television reported.

The protesters gathered in front of an asylum seekers centre where they are housed, carrying banners saying  “Refugees are not criminals” and “We came for peace.”

The migrants claimed that several of them were attacked in the city at the weekend, and accused the police of failing to respond to their reports of violence.

According to Zagreb police, two incidents were reported on Saturday, involving a total of five migrants, and police were now looking for the alleged assailants. The nature of the attacks was not disclosed.

One of the migrants, whose nationalities were not revealed, was taken to a hospital while the remaining four declined medical help, the police statement said.

Croatia lies on the so-called Balkan route taken by hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa since mid-2015 on their way to Western Europe.

The route was effectively shut down in March, but migrants have continued to cross the region in smaller numbers – a few hundred a day – often brought there by traffickers.

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Croatia, a member of the European Union since 2013, has said it can accommodate around 600 migrants in its reception centres, which are currently full.