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#No Borders #Bosnia: Displaced people protesting the border closure and violent push-backs

On July 19 two people of the Enough is Enough team will join the Cars of Hope collective in Bosnia to work together with refugees to provide mutual aid and to produce independent border monitoring reports from the Bosnian/Croatian border. In this article we first publish some details about our next stay in Bosnia and in the second part we reblog an article about the protests at the Bosnian/Croatian border. At the bootom of this page you will find a translation of the piece about our next stay in Castellano (Spanish).

First part published by Enough is Enough. Second part originally published by No Name Kitchen. Translation in Castellano (Spanish) by CanalRefugiadxs

Mutual aid: Support Enough is Enough and Cars of Hope at the Bosnian/Croatian border

On July 19 two people of the Enough is Enough team will join the Cars of Hope collective in Bosnia to work together with refugees to provide mutual aid and to produce independent border monitoring reports from the Bosnian/Croatian border. Read the reports of our last stay in Bosnia: here.

We urgently need financial support to maintain the supplies for refugees and to be able to keep on building emergency shelters.

Please donate for food, tents and other things for everyday life.

The Cars of Hope bank account details:

Bank: Volksbank in Bergisches Land

Account holder: Hopetal e.V.

Description: Cars of Hope

IBAN: DE51 3406 0094 0002 9450 87

BIC: VBRSDE33XXX

Mutual Aid: Support Refugees in Bosnia

Support the work with refugees in Bosnia.

€1.00

Bosnia: Displaced people protesting the border closure and violent push-backs

It is 18th June, around 11 am in a small town Velika Kladuša that lies on the Bosnian border with Croatia. Me and other volunteer Barbara are following the crowd of people, including families with small children, walking on a road leading towards the official border checkpoint from Bosnia to Croatia. Some are shouting: “Open the borders!, Stop violence!, We are not criminals!”. Many have bandaged arms and legs covering their injuries from the attacks by the Croatian and Slovenian border police who violently pushed them from the EU inner land back to Bosnia when they attempted to cross the border few days or weeks ago. In the crowd, a young man turned at me and uncovered his t-shirt to show me several bleeding cuts across his torso:

Look, this is from the Slovenian border police from the ‘game’ [irregular crossing attempt] from this morning! They caught me in Slovenia, used electric shocks and after deported me back to Bosnia!”.

In total, around 200 people gathered by the official entry point into European Union to protest the border closure, violent deterrent measures, and rejection of their right to claim asylum in the EU (1).

bosnia18j.jpg
Image: Family praying for the border to open during the protest.

New migration route across Bosnia

These people started their journeys from the countries with widespread violence and poverty, such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan. They tried to cross the Balkan corridor, particularly Serbia, into the EU-member states Hungary and Croatia, and then move on toward Western and Northern Europe. However, they had been trapped in Serbia for 2 or 3 years due to the border wire fences across the Hungarian and Croatian border territories (2) and dysfunctional and corrupted asylum procedures in the Hungarian transit zonesthat disabled them the legal transit onwards (3). Bosnia became the transit hub also for the people initially coming from Morocco, Algeria, Palestine, and Libya, who had been stuck in limbo in Greece for several years, and for this reason traveled through Montenegro to Bosnia to try their chance to pass to Europe. Bosnia and Herzegovina then became the new migration transit hub when since January 2018, the country detected more than 6700 new arrivals (4) in comparison to 755 arrivals in 2017 (5). Displaced people arriving to Bosnia come firstly to Sarajevo, and then move in overcrowded buses to the small northern border towns Velika Kladuša and Bihać, from where they try to cross to Croatia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina with the recent war experience and undeveloped social policy system struggle to cope to provide enough support for the displaced people. Bosnian Government provides only two accommodation asylum centers in Salakovac and Delijaš with the limited capacity of 350 places (6). Most of the displaced people sleep on the streets or in makeshift camps comprised of tents and abandoned buildings and are not provided with any state aid provision. All the humanitarian response out of formal camps has been organised by the Bosnian citizens and independent international volunteers, including No Name Kitchen, who provide displaced people with food, clothes, tents, showers, and help them to rebuild their temporary shelters.

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Image: Informal camp in Bihać where around 700 people temporary live with lack adequate shelter, sanitation, and medical care.

Border security and violent push-backs instead of legal and safe pathways

The Balkan States and their neighbouring countries (Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Austria and Slovenia) responded to the new arrivals to Bosnia mainly with developing of border security strategies instead of trying to establish legal and safe pathways for displaced people to Europe. Bosnian security minister, Dragan Mekcic, expressed his wish to join FRONTEX and strengthen the border police to prevent new migration influx through the Balkan corridor (7).

Currently, the chances of those trying the ‘games’, how the displaced people call attempts or irregular border crossing, from Bosnia to Croatia are almost impossible. Displaced people, including families with small children, attempt to cross the mountains and rivers full of mines across the 1,551-kilometre-long border territory controlled by night vision drones, helicopter, and the Croatian military border patrols and dogs. For some, this journey became fatal, as Asif, a 30-year-old man from Algeria, told me:

We did not have money to pay a smuggler to cross to Croatia safely by a car as it costs 3000 euros. So, we walked alone through the jungle [forest] and had to cross the river, but my friend could not swim, and the river took him away.”

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Image: A map showing dangerous mine areas around the Bosnian northern border area.

Dozens of people reported to me illegal violent push backs when they were detected by the Croatian and Slovenian police in the inner EU-land. The victims of the border violence have not been only the single adult men, but also children, women and the elderly, whom the police pushed back using beating, shooting, irritant spray, electric shocks, verbal threats, robbery of money, and damage of their phones. One of the victims of the violent push-backs has been also a father with his two children (daughter 9 years old and son 11 years old) from Afghanistan, who told me:

We were crossing in the forest, me and my children. When we were detected by the Slovenian army patrols, we said to them that we wanted to apply for asylum in Slovenia. But they were just shouting at us, ‘Shut up!’, ignoring my story. After, they hit me into my face by a baton, broke my phone, stole 180 euros from me, and deported us back to Bosnia. All this in front of my children.”

bosnia18j4.jpg
Image: Young Pakistani man and Afghani woman showing me their damaged phones by the Croatian border police when they attempted to cross the border from Bosnia to Croatia.

During the protest, people were mainly sitting peacefully by the border waiting for a response by the government, which they have not received. Both Bosnian and Croatian border police were present. While the Bosnian police has only verbally encouraged the protesters to leave back to the camp, the Croatian police officers used an irritant spray and beatings by batons to deter the protesters entering the Croatian land. All protestors left the official border check-point during the late afternoon. The only apparent reaction to the protest has been a border security increase. The Bosnian Government announced deploying 200 more border police officers to prevent further influx of ‘undocumented’ migrants from Serbia and Montenegro (8).

However, restriction of borders does not stop the displaced people searching for a refuge in Europe. As the article shows, it only results in new migration routes emerging, now through Bosnia and Herzegovina, and exposes people to violent push-backs.

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.unhcr.org/4a9d13d59.pdf
  2. http://www.dw.com/en/hungary-starts-building-fence-on-croatian-border/a-18721670
  3. https://theconversation.com/in-squats-by-the-serbian-border-young-men-trying-to-enter-the-eu-live-in-dangerous-limbo-96313
  4. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/countries-of-the-region-to-work-jointly-on-migrant-crisis-06-07-2018
  5. https://reliefweb.int/report/bosnia-and-herzegovina/un-migration-agency-receives-emergency-funding-provide-assistance
  6. https://data2.unhcr.org/es/documents/download/63869
  7. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/countries-of-the-region-to-work-jointly-on-migrant-crisis-06-07-2018
  8. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnia-s-police-border-getting-new-200-members-06-19-2018

Traducción en Castellano: @CanalRefugiadxs 

El 19 de julio, dos personas del equipo Enough is Enough se unirán al colectivo Cars Of Hope Wuppertal en #Bosnia para trabajar conjuntamente con personas migrantes y refugiadas proporcionar ayuda mutua y producir informes independientes de situación de la frontera bosnio-croata.

Los informes y reports que generan pueden leerse aquí: https://enoughisenough14.org/category/bosnia/ y el proyecto puede seguirse desde web de Cars Of Hope Wuppertal https://cars-of-hope.org/

Solicitan apoyo financiero para suministros y seguir construyendo refugios de emergencia para 120 personas junto el equipo local SOS Team Kladuša, comida, carpas y otros enseres para la vida diaria. Ya compraron muchos zapatos y los distribuyeron entre los refugiados. Si quieres apoyarles aquí tienes toda la información: https://cars-of-hope.org/spenden/

Cuenta bancaria: Volksbank en Bergisches Land

Titular de la cuenta: Hopetal eV

Uso previsto: Cars of Hope

IBAN: DE51 3406 0094 0002 9450 87

BIC: VBRSDE33XXX

Cuenta de PayPal : carsofhopewtal@gmail.com

Mutual Aid: Support Refugees in Bosnia

Support the work with refugees in Bosnia.

€1.00

1 thought on “#No Borders #Bosnia: Displaced people protesting the border closure and violent push-backs

  1. […] you know we will drive to Bosnia again to support refugees on the Balkan route. Therefore we republish Mutual Aid – an essay by Errico Malatesta […]

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