The pushback happened on the 11th of November at around 5:30 pm from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The respondent was a 18 years old young man from Burundi. He stated that this was his 20th attempt to cross the Bosnian-Croatian border. This time, the transit group consisted of 6 men between 18 and 50 years old.
The group started walking in the night between the 10th and the 11th of November from Velika Kladuša, Bosnia and Herzegovina. They tried to cross the Croatian border walking. The respondent explained that they stopped to alternately sleep for one hour, and then they started walking again.
At around 8 am in the morning of the 11th of November, after having walked around 40 km from Velika Kladuša, the transit group was apprehended in a forested area. According to their description it can be assumed that the location was close to Vijelo Brelo, Croatia. Moreover, the respondent could identify the people that apprehended them as police officers likely belonging to the Interventna Jednica Policija unit of Croatia (IJP). In fact, the uniforms they wore were described by the respondent as blue and black, with the inscription of the IJP, which likely matches the description of the uniforms usually worn by the members belonging to this police unit. Reportedly, the officers had a van with them The respondent could not remember exactly how many officers there were: he assumbed between 3 and 5 officers.
When the transit group encountered the police force, they were ordered to sit down in the forest. According to the respondent, they were forced to sit on the ground from around 8am till 5pm that day. The respondent assumes that the reason for this time frame was that the official camps and support systems of IOM (International Organisation of Migration) in Croatia are not attainable anymore after 5pm.
“We were not allowed to eat and drink from 8am till 5pm! And They took our phones! So we can not take photos or videos, and we can not call IOM” the respondent explained.
Reportedly, at 5pm, the officers commanded the group to enter a vehicle that the respondent refers to as a police van. They were driven to a place that the respondent could not recognise. The respondent could not remember anymore the duration of the car drive. However, he knew that the pushback site was about 15 km and two hours walking away from Velika Kladuša. The respondent reported that during the time that they spent being driven in the back of the van:
“There was no oxygen in the car. I felt like I can not breath.”, the respondent explained.