On the morning of the 20th of June 2022, 11 people were reportedly pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia Herzegovina.
The respondents are a 17 years old boy and his 15 years old sister from Sierra Leone. It was their fourth attempt to enter Croatia. The transit group consisted of 11 people (6 males and 5 females). The two respondents, both minors, were traveling with their older brother aged 21 years.
The group was reportedly apprehended in the forest, approximately 1 hour away from Zagreb, Croatia. The respondents declared that they decided to call a number they refered to as IOM to express their intention to seek asylum in Croatia. They added that once having disclosed their location and personal details via phone, the group was asked to wait to be picked up by them. The respondents could not point to the exact location shared with the number they had previously called, as their phones were later destroyed.
The group waited for someone for what felt like 11 hours to them, in the middle of the forest. They slept in the rain with no shelter. Having lost all their hope, the group decided to keep walking the following morning. Not long after, the group was reportedly apprehended by 5 people wearing dark blue uniforms.
The respondents stated that the uniformed people already knew the demographics of the group. They think that the people in uniform were informed beforehand by the people that were contacted by the group. The people on the move expressed their intention of seeking asylum in Croatia again and told uniformed people that they had themselves called what they thought was IOM to receive protection. Despite this, the group was reportedly patted down, searched thoroughly, and forced to hand over all their belongings. The respondents explaiend that everyone’s money and phones were taken. One of the respondents was caught whilst taking a video of the scene. His phone was allegedlyconsequently destroyed.
The respondent stated that after about 1 hour, the group of 11 was loaded in a van. The explained that as the capacity of the van was not enough for the group, some people had to sit on the floor. The respondents described the journey in the van as very claustrophobic due to the darkness inside, as well as to the space being overcrowded. For these conditions, the younger sister reported that she started feeling very dizzy. After many requests from the people forcibly confined inside, the van stopped. The two respondents got off the van, as their young sister was not feeling well at all by that point. The two brothers reportedly asked for some water, which the people in uniform denied. According to the respondents, at this point, the group was on the Croatian-Bosnian border, close to Velika Kladusa.
As the girl was not getting better, the people in uniform reportedly shouted at them to get back in the van. The two brothers beg them to wait a bit longer since the conditions of their sister were not good yet. The respondent stated that at this point, the people in uniform got back into the van and took pepper spray. With it, they started harming the three siblings all over their bodies. The respondents described the sensation of not being able to breathe. After this, the people in uniform reportedly left them there, on the street.
The respondents reported walking back to Velika Kladusa, where they were able to contact IOM. They were given food and water and transported back to Borici camp. Whilst the two respondents are now living together in Borici as they are both minors, the older brother is residing in Lipa camp because he is 21 years old.