Statement by No Name Kitchen about the attempt by Bosnian authorities to stop mutual aid operations of No Name Kitchen in Velika Kladusa.
Local authorities have now decided to forbid the volunteers of No Name Kitchen to offer any service or help.
Originally published by No Name Kitchen Facebook page.
Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.
No Name Kitchen is forced to stop working in Velika Kladusa
The local authorities have now decided to forbid the volunteers of No Name Kitchen to offer any service or help.
At least for the moment – and while we find a solution to this situation – we are forced to stop with our activities in the face of the threat of being all expelled and not being allowed to enter Bosnia during one year.
We have suffered ongoing harassment from the authorities for a long time. Today a volunteer was stopped and taken to the police station just for walking in the street. Police officers visit the house where volunteers are staying at least once a week, but they have never been able to find anything with what they could charge us. In one occasion, one of No Name Kitchen’s volunteer was followed home. They were sure that he was a refugee, and he was held for a long time and asked to show his papers – all of which were in order. They also visit the space for showers often, but they have not been able to bring anything against us, because we are actually doing nothing that goes against the rules. We have always been kind to them and invited them to come see our work. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
On their last visit to our working space they came together with IOM workers. We were given an appointment to talk with the local authorities. Because they have not been able to find anything dark behind our work, they now force us to have some document which entails this long procedure. We are not even sure if there is any law regarding this document.
Humanitarian aid has been under scrutiny in the different European states for years now. Our refugee friends are treated as criminals just for fleeing from wars and lacking access to legal routes which allow them to search for a better life – and those who offer help, too. Bosnia was actually a quiet and safe place in the beginning, and that surprised us positively. But humanitarian aid is also condemned here now, and hindered so that people cannot provide it any more.
Our lawyers are working right now to see how we can negotiate this new requirement or if it is actually legal at all. They seem to be aiming at having people moving as little as possible from IOM’s camp, 5 km from Velika Kladusa; a camp which many of its residents have described as a “prison from which you can go in and out”. We would certainly leave Velika Kladusa if IOM provided the services that refugees really need and deserve, but this is not the case and we are aware that we must stay. We do not want to leave hundreds of people abandoned here.
IOM’s camp is far beyond its capacity. People are not provided with clean or warm clothes and there is no place where people can wash their clothes to prevent infections. Many people come to us daily asking for clothes, wood to keep themselves warm, heaters, blankets, access to showers or hygienic products – and sometimes even food.
Therefore, we are clear about this: No Name Kitchen is not leaving. Many people have sent us articles to help keep people living here in northern Bosnia warm and prevent the winter from killing them. We do not resign ourselves to having all this material stored in our warehouse during the harshest months of the year. We have been working hard in order to be well equipped and prepared for this moment. And now it is very hard to be here – today, under the snow – having to tell people who ask why the showers are not working today, that we cannot open them because the authorities do not let us help.
No Name Kitchen, January 18, 2019.
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