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article imageAid groups say Croat police beat and robbed migrants

By AFP     May 26, 2017 in World

Humanitarian aid groups said Friday that Croatian police have beaten with sticks and robbed migrants trying to pass through the country.

Croatia is along the so-called Balkans route taken by hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Some 8,000 migrants have been trapped in neighbouring Serbia since the European Union closed its borders in 2016, seeking to halt the influx of people.

Since May 10, "we have noted an upsurge in violence on the part of Croatian police against migrants trying to get through," Owen Breuil of Doctors of the World (MDM) told AFP.

"The violence reported follows the same patterns... beatings with wooden sticks and tree branches, kicks and fists, telephones being destroyed and money robbed," said Stephane Moissaing of Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

A Croatian police spokeswoman declined to comment and requested documents on the incidents in order to look into the matter.

MSF and MDM have treated around 30 wounded migrants since May 19, Moissaing said.

"We cannot allow violence to be used as a means of dissuasion against people stranded in the Balkans for months," added Moissaing.

"It is important that the violence used by Croatia against migrants be recognised, it is a rising trend, and it is important it stops these practises that go against human rights and freedom of movement of people seeking asylum," added Breuil.

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