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No, 20 000 refugees with credit cards did not break through the Croatian border


CORRECTIV Faktencheck, Germany

16 March 2019, Updated: 19 May 2019

A video showing people breaking through police lines is circulating on Facebook since the end of 2018. However, the claims being made in connection with this video are untrue.

A German speaking Facebook user, Micha Elel, shared a video showing people running out of a number of tents and trying to push their way through police lines.

Micha Elel posted the following comment in German along with the video: “Now they’re through. At the Serbian/Croatian border. About 20,000 highly aggressive Mohammedans. Armed and with credit cards given them by the EU and the UN …”

But this is not true.

Disturbances at the border crossing

It is true that the video shows people trying to get to Bosnia from Croatia. It is also true that the people on the video are refugees.

The scene in the video shows a bridge with two fields next to it. A street sign can also be seen. Faktenfinder, a fact-checking project from German broadcaster ARD, has already published a report on the rumour that the video shows 20,000 refugees on their way to Europe. This report also includes a photo with the caption: “Police block approx. 100 refugees near the Croatian border.”

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The street sign visible in the Facebook video can be seen on the left of the photo. At about the one minute point in the video a yellow sign can be seen. This can be seen on the photo, too, which ARD describes as having been taken at the Bosnian-Croatian border. The street sign shows the way to the town of Velika Kladusa, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the city of Karlovac, in Croatia. Based on the location of these two places we were able to use Google Maps to identify the border crossing where the scene took place. The satellite view is also consistent with what can be seen of the scene in the video and on the ARD photograph.

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According to Faktenfinder, the 20,000 figure comes from the fact that a total of 20,000 refugees were registered in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2018. However, of these, only about 5000 have remained in Bosnia-Herzegovina permanently. And not all of these are currently trying to cross the border to Croatia. The Austrian Ministry of the Interior and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also confirmed this to Faktenfinder.

Both have further confirmed that the situation is currently under control. This is not the impression given by the video. The police lines look to be powerless against the people breaking through. The photograph published by ARD shows a different perspective: there are significantly more police officers blocking the road and, behind them, on the bridge forming the only route into Croatia over the border river, more police officers are waiting.

It is also untrue that the refugees have UNHCR credit cards. CORRECTIV has already reported on this rumour: these credit cards are only issued to refugees in Greece, and even then, only to registered asylum seekers or third-country nationals with police clearance certificates who are staying in Greece legally. UNHCR credit cards can only be used in their country of issue, meaning that refugees would lose this financial support if they crossed the border into another country.

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