In the second week of March 2020, a group of 7 people, including 2 women and 3 children 4, 6, and 12-years-old, started their journey from Sarajevo towards the Bosnian-Croatian border. At around 11pm, they were dropped off by their taxi north of the Bosnian town of Cazin, around 3 hours walking from the Bosnian-Croatian border, and continued their journey towards Croatia on food.
According to the respondent, all group members had suffered some sort of food poisoning. Especially the respondent and 2 of the kids were in very bad condition, and constantly throwing up.
At around 4pm the next day, they arrived close to the Croatian town of Glina, and texted a number they believed to be associated with IOM Croatia, sending photos of their situation, and asking for help and medical attention. The respondent recalls that they were asked to send their location, and soon after a police car arrived, followed by an IOM car, which left the location quickly.
“We were in really bad condition, the kids were constantly throwing up, but they didn’t care. We begged IOM to help us get medical help”
The group was apprehended by 3 male officers in dark blue uniforms. All group members were asked for their phones, and everyone’s belongings were searched. According to the respondent, anything valuable such as phones, powerbanks, chargers, and headphones was put inside a plastic bag. They also took the respondent’s asthma spray, and medications used for her heart condition.
They then went ahead to do a body search, but the respondent told them she would only allow a female officer to search her. They then had to wait in the cold until it was almost dark, for a female officer to arrive and search the 2 women in the group. After the search, a van, with 2 officers in dark blue uniforms arrived, and they were taken back to the border.
At the border point, the respondent asked if their phones would be returned, and one of the officers punched her in the face, which resulted in a broken tooth and bleeding. They also pushed, kicked, and punched, and seriously beat up another group member for asking to get her belongings back. One of the officers pointed a gun at them and even came to the Bosnian side, threatening them to leave.
The group was pushed back at around 9pm and had to spend the night at an abandoned building on their way, before making their way back to the closest town the next day.