On the 26th February 2021 at around 4 am, a group of 7 families crossed to Croatia on foot from the Bosnian village of Bojna. The group consisted of 5 children and 8 adults from Afghanistan and Iran. Within the group, there was a woman who was 6 months pregnant. The respondent is a 16-year-old girl from Afghanistan.
She reported that the group had crossed into Croatia and then had walked for around 10km. They then sent a message to the Croatian IOM. The message included the name, age, and nationality of everyone in the group. They were asked for their location, which they sent. The message also stated that they wanted to claim asylum in Croatia. Following this message, two Croatian authorities arrived at their location. There were one female and one male officer, both officers were wearing light blue shirts which is consistent with the uniform worn by the Croatian border authority.
The respondent spoke to the female officer and said, “what are you going to do with us? We have problems, that’s why we’re coming, we are 6 months in Bosnia.” This officer then asked for everyone’s phone, including the respondent’s 14-year-old brother’s phone. The female officer allegedly demanded that he entered the passcode for the phone and password for his Gmail account but he had nothing on the phone. The respondent claimed that the officer also changed the passcode for the phone, making it almost useless.
After around 2 hours of waiting, a ‘deportation car’ arrived. The description of this vehicle matches the vans used by the Croatian authorities. Two more male officers came in this vehicle – the respondent explained that she did not remember their uniforms because she was under a lot of stress. The whole group was loaded into the back of the van, with an additional five people who were also being pushed back. There was not enough space to sit down, so most of the group members stood while two people sat down.
According to the respondent, the driving caused the pregnant woman and two of the children to vomit. After around 45 minutes to 1 hour, they arrived at the border with Bosnia. There, the officers reportedly made a fire with some of the belongings. The phone was returned to the 14-year-old boy, but it had reportedly been broken. A man from another family carried the holy book of Islam in a bag. The man asked to have the book returned to him, even if the bag was burned. The respondent recalls that the officers “said something bad” and burnt the book along with the bag and other items. They crossed back into Bosnia at around 7pm and had to walk 25-27 km back to Bojna.