Open air view of a migrant camp Lipa near Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 18th, 2021. Image taken by drone. VELIKA KLADUSA, Bosnia, October 14 Reuters : Several hundred Iraqi refugees including women, children and a seven-day-old boy have settled in a makeshift tent camp near the border with Croatia, determined to continue their journey to the European Union despite pushbacks and deportations.
I don't want to go back to Afghanistan again, said a man who identified himself as John, a former driver for NATO in Afghanistan before its western-backed government fell to the Islamist militant Taliban in August after 20 years of conflict. He said he wanted a better life for his seven-month old child.
Thousands of migrants from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have been stranded in Bosnia since 2018, when EU countries including Croatia tightened their borders.
Migrants try repeatedly to cross the frontier in what they call the game, but most are hurried back by Croat police in Bosnia.
Croatia police - a problem, said a man, showing his arm in a cast. His friend Rustam, 18, said they were both beaten by rural police officers when they tried to slip over the Croatian frontier last week.
They broke me of shoes and everything, deported me a lot, took me back to Bosnia, said Rustam. I walked 25 kilometers without shoes. Last week, Croatia acknowledged that its police had taken part in a violent pushback against migrants along the border with Bosnia following reports by several European media outlets and a call by the EU executive for an investigation. The Danish Refugee Council, which monitors border borders as part of its humanitarian health and protection programmes in Croatia, recorded 30,309 pushbacks for migrants from Bosnia from June 2019 to September 2021.
From the beginning of this year until now we see about 7,200 cases of pushbacks, 25% of them known We saw excessive use of violence, said Hector Carpintero, the DRC National Director in Bosnia.
Scattered out in a muddy field on the outskirts of the northwestern Bosnian town Velika Kladusa, improvised tents provide little protection from worsening autumn cold and rain.
But the Farid and Adela (Afghan couple) said they were hopeful they would eventually make it on EU soil with their seven-day-old baby.
It's absolutely impossible to live next to the people who live in such a situation and not to sympathise with them, said Zehida Bihorac Odobasic, a local teacher who visits migrants every day bringing supplies they need.