The respondent is a 24-year-old man who was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The respondent travelled with two families from Iraq and Afghanistan. The transit group consisted of seven people in total, with ages ranging from 5 to 39. They explained that they have been on the move for the past seven years attempting to seek asylum in the EU. This report details their latest pushback.
The transit group left Bosnia, near the city of Velika Kladusa, and crossed into Croatia at approximately 5 am on February 9th 2022. The respondent recalled that five minutes after passing into Croatia that the group stopped to rest when he noticed lights in the forest. The respondent stated that the transit group quickly hid and a few minutes later, police arrived searching the area. After a while in hiding, the children became cold so the group decided to call the police to let them know where they were located.
One officer reportedly approached them, and then called over another three officers who were described as wearing all-black uniforms with black masks covering their faces, a description which corresponds to that of the Croatian Intervention Police. One of the officers was holding what the respondent believed to be an infrared camera.
It was at this point that the group stated they wished to seek asylum in Croatia. The officers made no response to this request, other than to radio for a vehicle, whereby a large white transport van arrived approximately ten minutes later. The respondent recounted that the officers then took everyone’s mobile phones and power banks, saying that they would be returned, and ordered the transit group to get into the back of the van.
After driving for what the respondent estimated to be 30 minutes, the van stopped and the transit group was let out of the back. The now seven officers, dressed in all black, returned the phones and power banks and told the group to cross the border back into Bosnia.
“Before we say we want to stay in Croatia, we want asylum, and he [the Intervention Police Officer] don’t say anything. After that, we come to border and he say ‘Go, this way, to Bosnia.’”
The pushback took place in the area of Durin Potok.
“This is the first time police don’t beat me. Don’t take my mobile or my money. Before, the last years, we try to go and they [the police] take our phone, our money, everything.”
The respondent explained that the group did as the officers said, crossed back into Bosnia, and began the estimated three-hour walk back to Velika Kladuša to rest.
“This is our life. What to do? We will try, again, again, again. Seven years I am like this… We will try. Don’t give up.”