Interview with the head of the Center for the Management of Crises in FYR Macedonia, Suzana Salihu: We have the necessary capacities to cope with refugees, we are not thinking on closing borders
In an exclusive interview for IBNA, the head of the Center for the Management of Crises in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, talks about the refugee crisis and the activities of institutions in FYROM in coping with the crisis. She says that the country has the necessary capacities to welcome a large number of refugees, but financial support is demanded from the European Union. Commenting on the closing of the border for refugees by several European countries, Salihu underlines that Skopje has not thought on doing such thing until now.
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti/IBNA
IBNA: Large numbers of refugees continue to enter our country. How are you coping with this situation and do we have the necessary capacities to cope with the crisis?
Salihu: Our country has the necessary capacities to cope with the refugee crisis. We are coping with different situations, but we are ready to cope with this large number of refugees. Currently, over 3 thousand refugees a day are entering the country. Particular days have seen a large number, but we will be ready for higher numbers. We are expecting the number to double or triple and we are ready to welcome them even in winter.
IBNA: What are the activities being coordinated by the Center for the Management of Crises on field?
Salihu: Our institution is carefully following the situation. We are coordinating activities with all institutions which are involved in this crisis, such as the Ministry of Interior, Defence, humanitarian organizations and other institutions which are partially involved. With the capacities that we have, we are trying to fulfill all the responsibilities that we have. Refugees are being received by the temporary welcome center near the border with Greece or in the town of Gevgelija, where all refugees are issued with a 72 hour stay permit and where they are given the possibility to apply for asylum. Then, they are taken to the border with Serbia, mainly by railway transport.
IBNA: Given that several countries of the region are closing the border, is such decision expected to be taken by authorities in Skopje too?
Salihu: So far we haven’t made any plans on closing the border with Greece, but there are warnings that the closure of borders will be a decision which will be approved by all European countries. Thus, it will be a decision that will be taken by all countries, because all of the European Union is facing this problem and not just countries in Southeast Europe.
IBNA: What are the financial capacities to face such crisis and has the government sought support from the EU?
Salihu: Institutions are making extraordinary financial expenses for the current crisis. All of these funds come out of the state budget. I cannot accurately say what the cost is, but institutions are spending funds allocated to them. The most affected ones are Ministry of Health, Army and Police. For now, state institutions have not received aids from abroad. We are expecting to receive help from the EU in order to cope with the humanitarian crisis. We have showed that we are a humane country and that we have a great will to face with the challenges, but as we have stressed, funds are a problem.
IBNA: What other plans does the institution that you chair have for this crisis?
Salihu: We are ready to cope with any situation and the institution that copes with this issue, acts in compliance with the responsibilities and responsibilities that it has. We are engaged in not allowing the image of the country to be ruined, an image that we consolidated in 1999 with the Kosovo refugee crisis. At that time, along with our partners, we showed that we know how to face with humanitarian crises, because we took care of around half a million refugees from Kosovo. /ibna/