On Wednesday, 4th of January 2023, a 26-year-old man from Algeria was pushed back two times from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first pushback happened in the evening around 8pm. The second pushback happened the next morning on Thursday, 5th of January 2023, around 8pm.
The transit group consisted of 3 men, coming from Algeria, Syria and Turkey, aged 26, 32 and 55. They left Velika Kladuša walking in the morning around 10am, after arriving there with the bus from Sarajevo. The respondent stated that they walked around 30 km before they managed to cross the border in the area of Ponikve and walk further into Croatia with multiple moments of rest in-between, as the road was hard for the older man in the group. They reached Glina, in Croatia, at around 8pm.
The respondent reports that they were walking when, suddenly, they saw a vehicle that he identified as a police car; with his own words:
It was the end of a good history. When we arrived in the city, unfortunately officers came towards us in a police car.
The oldest man in the group did not expect that, forgot to pay attention and fell into the river they were walking close to. He got really cold. Reportedly, the people that they identified as officers did not help him or give him anything to warm up. Later on, the people in uniforms made some phone calls and 1 other small car and 1 van showed up straight after. There were around 10 people wearing uniforms at that point, as the respondent could recount.
The respondent described the cars being white and blue and the people identified as officers wearing dark blue uniforms. According to the description of the uniforms they were wearing and the cars they arrived in, it seems most likely that the officers were part of the Croatian police.
They were a little bad. There was a female officer, she asked us questions and didn’t listen to our answers. She said that I am a fucking liar and that I needed to shut up.
The respondent explained that at that point they started to search them, took their personal belongings and they were forced to sit on the ground for about ten minutes. Afterwards, they were loaded into the van and they were driven back to the border.
When they reached the border, they asked for their belongings back. However, the people identified as officers took their phones and broke them. They broke the cameras, charging ports and took the sim cards and the sim card holders out. After destroying the phones, they gave them back to them. Reportedly, they were dropped off and walked back into Bosnian territory at around 9pm.
The respondent reported that they decided to stay in the forest close to the border and spend the night there. They made a fire because it was very cold. They tried to cross the border again in the morning around 8am. For that, the respondent explained that they had to walk for a bout1 km. They crossed the border and, immediately after, they saw 2 cars. The respondent described them as one extra small car and one van, that arrived a little bit later. Teportedly, also 9 identified as officers by the respondent were there.
We needed to sit on the ground and stay with them for some time. They were better than the officers from the night before. They were young, asked us where we were from, but told us that we needed to go away as well. We took place in the van and they brought us back over the border.
The respondent explains that they walked back towards Velika Kladuša and arrived around 12am.
It’s hard. We passed some hard days but we have courage. We must have courage. This is life. We should combat it. We should feel strong. I will not lose my strength. I am feeling bad right now. I need to take a rest. But everywhere there are good people who will help us. God will help us.