Police are still looking for 11-year-old Banin Hossein, a girl from Afghanistan who according to her asylum-seeking father Seyed Hossein Shah, separated from him and their migrant group in Brocanac, at an army training ground near Slunj on August 27, Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic told the state agency Hina on Sunday.
"There are indications that the girl continued her journey with another group of migrants, but that has not been confirmed since that group has not been found," Bozinovic said.
Even though police and army forces have been looking for the group, their search has not yielded results and the investigation in the case continues, notably through international legal assistance, Bozinovic said, adding that so far there was no confirmation of the group's having been earlier registered in camps along the Balkan migration route but that not everything had been checked.
Speaking generally of the problem of illegal migration, Bozinovic said that it was a fact that there had been a number of false reports about migrant childen going missing. For example, in the case of a false report about the disappearance of a Syrian girl in 2018, "Croatian police were criticised for more than a year by various activist reporters," said Bozinovic.
"It was only more than a year later that we received confirmation from Jordan that the girl in question had never left the camp in Jordan where she had stayed as a refugee. Illegal migrants are aware that if they say that they are looking for a child, they will not be repatriated. I can understand that, they are trying to get hold of European countries at any cost, specifically Austria, Germany, Sweden or other countries which do not want or cannot take them in," he said.
This is a security issue, Bozinovic says, claiming that some media simply do not want to admit that or the fact that policies in European countries are changing, that rightist camps are growing stronger and that migration can no longer be treated just as a humanitarian issue.
He stresses that one's fleeing death and war is a humanitarian issue but that fleeing poor living conditions is not.
The minister believes that humanitarian problems will grow deeper due to the coronavirus pandemic because "it will double the number of hungry people globally."
The group of 13 illegal migrants, from whom Banin Hossein allegedly separated at a military training ground on August 27, are in a reception centre in Zagreb and they have all applied for asylum in Croatia.