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Here is Italy, you have to go that way

Date & Time 2022-12-23
Location Volinja, Croatia
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 45.191352976034, 16.481086287836
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 8 - 55
Group size 22
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Morocco, Guinea-Conakry
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 5
Violence used no violence used
Police involved 2 police cars; 1 police bus

On Friday, 23rd of December 2022, a 55-year-old man from Morocco was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, around the border area in Grdanovac. The pushback happened at 1am in the night.

The respondent stated that he was together with 5 other men he met on the way. A 33-year-old man from Guinea-Conakry and 5 other Moroccan people: all of them were aged between 20-55 years old, but the respondent cannot tell their exact ages.

They tried to cross to Croatia by bus. The respondent states that they took a bus in Sarajevo around 6 pm on the 22nd of December. After two hours, the bus was pulled aside by some people the respondent identified as police officers. Reportedly, they checked the documents of the people in the bus, and the transit group was forced to get off and step into a police bus with 7 men from Afghanistan who were already there. At that point, the respondent states that they were still in Bosnia.

He also describes that there were 2 officers wearing dark blue uniforms, and they had a big bus. The description of the uniforms could match the ones usually worn by the Bosnian Police.

The transit group was driven until they arrived at a village that the respondent recalls being close to Hrvatska Kostajnica, Croatia. According to the description given by the respondent,  it could possibly be Mrakodol. There, the officers stopped driving and  just told them to go. Then, the respondent reports the transit group walked about 5 km until they reached the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in Grdanovac.

There, there was a bridge with train tracks on it and an abandoned building nearby. Reportedly, the group reached the squat that was already hosting about 13 people from Afghanistan, including 2 women and 1 child of approximately 8 years old. At that point, the  group consisted of about 26 people. They spent the rest of the evening waiting in the building.

The respondent states that around 1 am they decided to cross the bridge, heading towards Croatia. They walked for 3 minutes until they suddenly saw 2 people he identified as police officers. They tried to hide and keep quiet. 4 people from Afghanistan had meanwhile been able to cross the bridge. At that point, the people identified as officers spotted the transit group and walked towards them. They told them to stand still. Everyone had to lie down on the ground with their hands on their heads, face down. They were not allowed to talk. Reportedly, they were forced to stay like that for several minutes. The police officers told them to keep calm and not to talk, the respondent explains.

After some minutes, the transit group was required to follow the officers to their cars. The respondent recalls also a small building being present in that spot. Three more people, also identified by the respondent as police officers, arrived there with 2 police cars. Reportedly, the group had to wait outside while the officers asked them where they came from. People got scared, and the respondent reports he tried to calm them down. He told them: “If everyone remains calm then they will not harm us.” The officers then checked everyone’s backpacks and bags and confiscated all the phones.

After 10 minutes waiting, a large transport bus arrived. Everyone had to take a seat on the bus and they were driven for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, the bus stopped for 1 hour; then ran again for 30 minutes and stopped again for 1 hour. And for the third time, the bus ran for 30 minutes. Eventually, around 5 am the bus stopped and everyone had to get off, the respondent describes. One of the officers said: “Here is Italy, you have to go that way”, and they returned all the phones  to them.

The transit group walked for one hour and eventually found a mosque, where they were given food and water. Afterwards, they continued walking until 8 am.

The respondent recalls that at that point he left the transit group and took a bus with the man from Guinea and they arrived in Velika Kladuša around 10 am