Sometime around 25th September, a 41-year-old man from Iran started his journey to cross into Croatia from Sarajevo in Bosnia. This man has severe injuries to his back from a previous attempt to cross the border. The respondent remarked that he usually uses a wheelchair but was managing with crutches for his journey. He was driven in a car to a village on the Bosnian border, west of the city of Brod, where the car stopped. He then walked for 10 or 15 minutes to the bank of the Sava River, which forms the border between Bosnia and Croatia.
There was a small boat was waiting for him there. He crossed the river in the boat before being picked up by another car on the Croatian side of the river. This car drove him across Croatia towards the Slovenian border. There he was told to wait in the forest and another car would come and collect him. The man waited in the forest for a “few days”. He was without food or water and had no communication about the car that was supposed to come. Eventually he had to seek help, “I am so sick, I ask one of the locals in Croatia to call the police.” The respondent doesn’t know the location of this as his phone was out of charge.
At around 4 or 5am on approximately the 3rd October the respondent sought the help of an older couple. “They served me well.” and brought him a blanket and some water. The couple called the police and an ambulance. Two police officers in dark blue uniform jackets arrived (likely the ‘regular’ police), they were both male. There were also two medical professionals in orange uniforms who were also both male. “They were mocking me and told the local people that it wasn’t important.”
The medical professionals did not examine the man, they did not even touch him or come near him. “I insisted that I need medical help and asked for asylum.” The officers made a reference to the fact that he is from Iran, implying that this was the reason that he would be deported back to Bosnia. The respondent explained that, by the time they put him in a vehicle to transport him, they had taken all his documents. This included legal papers, medical documents, his “yellow card” (the asylum seeker’s card issued in Bosnia) and his driving license as well as photographs.
The officers transported the man in a van to a police station. He said that it was time for the change of shift of the police, around 7:00 am. He was left inside the van which was parked at the police station. One of the officers used the respondent’s own money to buy him a Coca Cola and a sandwich whilst he waited. After some time he was let out of the van to wait in the parking lot of the police station. He was at the police station for a total of 4 or 5 hours.
“They deported me alone, they didn’t even consider my physical situation.” The respondent was handed over to two different officers, one man and one woman. By this time, the respondent was so unwell that he could not remember what color the uniforms of these officers were. They transported him in what was described as a black prisoners’ van to the border between Croatia and Bosnia in an area with only forest around, near the Bosnian village of Štabandža [approximate coordinates of the pushback location: 45.142931, 16.082282]. These officers were not described as mistreating him, just telling him to cross the border alone.
He spent two nights here, the first night he slept in a cemetery, the second night he reached a house near the border in Bosnia outside of Štabandža. The family living in this house helped him, and he was able to use their wifi to contact his friends in Sedra Camp near Bihać who arranged a taxi to go and fetch him and bring him to Sedra Camp. He was later admitted to hospital.