On Friday 8th April, three Afghan men, including one minor, were pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The three young respondents reported that they left Velika Kladusa around 3 pm on Thursday 9 April. After walking the rest of the day and a part of the night, they crossed the Croatian-Bosnian border at 4 in the morning near the town of Bogovolja. The respondent told that the stretch of the forest they crossed was full of mines and that for this reason, the route was particularly difficult. They stated that after crossing the border, they waited until nine in the morning and then decided to call a phone number, which they think is from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), expressing their intention to seek asylum. They pointed out that among them was also a minor and as a proof, they reportedly sent a photo where the date of birth of the seventeen-year-old was marked. After providing their location to this number, they waited for about one hour on the side of the road.
The three respondents declared that they were told by this phone number declared as IOM’s that it was only in the power of the police to decide how to act. At one point, the respondents described seeing arriving a big van, reportedly from the police, which they allegedly saw being used in pushbacks before: “When we saw the big car of the inch we understood that we were going to be deported again”. The respondents explained that the people from the van were wearing dark blue uniforms.
The three men explained that they tried to express their intention to seek asylum in Croatian to the people in uniform. The respondents described witnessing that for about half an hour the uniformed men talked to each other, over and over repeating “asyl, asyl, asyl” and then asking the transit group for documents. “We don’t have documents, we all have in the mobile and we sent to the IOM”. During the interview, the respondents repeatedly stressed the confusion that the question of documents caused: he had the feeling that no one from the men in uniform has any idea what documents are necessary to present in order to prevent a pushback.
At around 10 in the morning, the men in uniform reportedly forced the three men to enter the back of the van. There was already a Cuban family on board. “They brought us in the car, they didn’t say nothing. There was another family inside, in very bad conditions, a Cuban family.” In total, they described that 11 people were crammed into the back of the van completely in the dark. The people in uniform drove from about 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. The respondents described the driving as crazy, with frequent bends and sudden braking. Due to lack of oxygen, two people reportedly fainted and many others vomited. “It was a bad car, close car, we were in there for 7 hours“. The men in uniform also often stopped the car in the sun. The respondents understood this as an attempt to purposefully overheat the passenger compartment. “They stopped everywhere in the sun, lot of people felt bad. It was a bad situation, even right now I’m not feeling good from that. It’s very bad “.
The respondents stated that after what seemed like 7 hours of driving to them, the men in uniform stopped the van and told the people-on-the-move to return to Bosnia. They were pushed back far away from where they were apprehended, somewhere near Bihac. Their phones were reportedly returned to the three respondent at the time of pushback. “We had luck for that. They didn’t take us mobiles or money. Every time we go they take everything from us, it’s a big problem for us. We have always to spend lot of money “.
At the pushback location, they met another newly expelled family who originally came from Nepal. They explained that the family had been stripped of everything, telephones, backpacks and were even stripped of their clothes. “They had anything”.
After re-crossing the Bosnian-Croatian border, they allegedly reached Bihac where they called a number, supposedly IOM. A car picked them up and took them to Lipa.