The case of a young Croatian Nepalese woman echoed in the French media: ‘Croatia is mentally unprepared’

NEWS 27.03.202414:15 0 komentara
Hrvoje Jelavic/PIXSELL / Ilustracija

Durga Phuyal hoped to start a new life when she landed in Croatia, but the Nepalese migrant faced an uphill battle to adapt, the French news agency AFP reported on Wednesday.

Phuyal is among tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in Croatia from Asia as Croatia tries to overcome a chronic labour shortage.

Croatia, which has traditionally relied on seasonal workers from neighbouring countries, is increasingly relying on labour from Nepal, India, the Philippines and other countries to fill the gap.

Mass emigration and population decline have created tens of thousands of vacancies in the construction and service industries in tourism-dependent Croatia.

In Nepal, Phuyal paid €7,000 for various fees, documents and travelling expenses before arriving in Croatia. But just a month after her arrival, she lost her job and the agency that helped her find work offered her no support.

Last year, Croatia granted work permits to almost 120,000 non-EU citizens, 40% more than in 2022.

Language barriers and conservative attitudes

But migrants face cramped and expensive accommodation, and anti-immigrant rhetoric is occasionally heard ahead of parliamentary elections due in April. Right-wing parties accuse them of threatening the country’s security and stealing jobs from Croats. Migrants are also regularly attacked online.

Ethnic Croats make up over 90% of the Croatian population and almost 80% are Roman Catholic. Language barriers and a conservative attitude towards foreigners pose numerous obstacles to welcoming the new labour force.

“Unlike countries that have had contact with different cultures throughout their history, such as France or the UK, Croatia is facing a situation where it is encountering very different groups for the first time,” says Dragan Bagic, a sociologist at the University of Zagreb.

According to the Croatian Employers’ Association, the country with a population of just 3.8 million could need up to 500,000 foreign workers by the end of the decade.

Newly arrived migrants are the most vulnerable when it comes to finding accommodation, experts say.

Local newspapers in Zagreb reported that 32 foreign labourers were found living in an 83 m2 flat in the city.

Croatia is unprepared

Adverts targeting foreign workers usually offer small flats with almost a dozen beds for €200 per person.

A representative of the Nepalese workers said that their monthly salaries in Croatia range from €560 to €1,000.

To address this challenge, the Croatian government is preparing amendments to the Aliens Act to better regulate accommodation, offer language courses and monitor the growing number of temporary labour agencies.

Arcely Bhing, a 48-year-old Filipina who works in a printing company, says Croatia is “neither physically nor mentally” prepared for this wave of immigration. Attending English-language church services in Zagreb on Sundays, joined by dozens of other Filipinos, has helped her overcome homesickness.

Andjelko Katanec, a priest at St Blaise’s Church, which has been holding masses in English since 2019, says integrating into Croatian society is a “big challenge” for migrants. “They run the risk of being isolated outside of work… We need to organise ourselves better… accept immigrants better, offer them more opportunities and better conditions.”

“Good workers”

Many migrants come to earn money for their families left behind and often use Croatia as a base in Europe with the aim of settling elsewhere.

Denson D’Cruz, who immigrated from Kerala in India, says he chose Croatia because it is part of the Schengen area, where a passport is not required. The 30-year-old came to Croatia last year to work as a mechanic, but now runs his own import-export business.

He hopes to stay in Croatia for some time because “the climate and the people are friendly and speak English.”

While some try to exploit newcomers, others help them find their place. “Nepalis are very good workers, adaptable and willing to learn quickly,” says Ruzica Kerepcic, owner of a temporary employment agency.

Kakvo je tvoje mišljenje o ovome?

Budi prvi koji će ostaviti komentar!