On Wednesday 13 April 2022, ten men from Cameroon, Guinea, Mauretania, Morroco, and Senegal left Bosnia and Herzegovina for Croatia – hoping to apply for asylum. The youngest of the group was 20 and the oldest was around 40 years old.
The respondents for this testimony (two men, one from Cameroon and one from Guinea) said that the whole group left Velika Kladuša on Wednesday crossing the Bosnian-Croatian border. They did not remember the exact location of the crossing but they explained that they crossed the border behind the Miral camp. (“We crossed the border behind the Miral camp[the local refugee camp in Velika Kladuša]“).
They related that their journey in the forest was quite long, they walked for about 50 km for a total of four days. During the nights they were sleeping in the woods. After four days they arrived near a rather large city in Croatia whose name they do not remember. One of the two respondents said that some of the guys in the group had trouble walking but had no other option than to continue walking.
It was about 2 am in the morning when men arrived near a road where the transit group was resting. The respondents describe the officers as policemen who wore dark blue uniforms. From the respondent’s descriptions, it can be supposed that they were members of the Croatian police forces. Reportedly, the six officers identified the People-on-the-move with thermal detectors and night vision cameras. They reached the group by firing guns into the air to scare the People-on-the-move. “They fired the guns, boom boom boom!”. The officers approached and started beating the ten men, especially the two youngest group members. They tried to hide but the officers followed them and reportedly kicked them.
They were forced to sit down. In the meantime, all ten group members asked the officers to be taken to the Zagreb camp to ask for asylum but were not listened to. They were searched and the officers seized all their belongings, the phones, money, backpacks, chargers, and power banks that they had with them.
After a while, a van arrived and they were crammed into the back of the car like prisoners, the respondents recall. “They took us, locked up, like a prison”. The respondents said it was all dark inside, they had little space to move and they had no idea where they were. After about an hour of driving, they were dropped off and left in the middle of the forest, not knowing where they were or in which direction they should go. They walked until 1 pm to return to Velika Kladuša where they went to the Miral camp. The whole trip lasted from the 13th to the 27th of April.