Activists briefly blocked the Croatia-Bosnian border on Saturday in a protest to highlight the European Union”s migration policies.
About 100 people from different human rights organizations across Europe gathered near the border in Maljevac, Croatia and held up traffic for about two hours.
Police attended the protest but no incidents were reported. The demonstrators, who hailed mostly from Italy but also came from Germany, Austria, Spain and Slovenia, demanded an end to deportations and the dissolution of EU border agency Frontex.
Francesco Cibati, from a rights group based in Trieste, Italy, said the group wanted to highlight that everyone should be granted the right to seek asylum.
“The European Union is violently pushing people back,” he said, “and Croatian police are doing that on behalf of the European Union, paid by the European Union. We are here to protest this situation, which is intolerable.”
Croatian officers have faced repeated allegations of violent and abusive behaviour while turning back migrants trying to enter from Bosnia, which the authorities have denied.
Migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Mideast, Africa or Asia come to the Balkans by first arriving in Turkey, then slipping into Greece or Bulgaria before moving on toward North Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia.
Thousands of would-be asylum seekers end up stranded in Bosnia, sometimes for years, waiting for a chance to cross into Croatia, an EU member state, and on towards Western Europe.
Earlier this month the European Court of Auditors found that Frontex, which is due to see its budget increased by €440 million in the coming years, was not doing enough to curb illegal migration and cross-border crime.
Auditors found “worrying deficiencies” in the services being provided by the 10,000-strong agency, which said it accepted all their recommendations and was still working to improve.