The respondent and three other men got pushed back by Croatian authorities from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 27th April, 2022.
The group started their “game” in Velika Kladusa and walked 25km, about 7 hours, towards Gradina, Velika Kladusa, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they wanted to cross the border to Croatia. However, it started to rain, thus the group decided to stay in an abandoned house close to the border and wait for the rain to stop. While people on the move are on game, trying to reach the EU, rain can be a big issue. Due to the rain their clothes will be wet and heavy, but also their shoes will rub and create blisters. In general rain slows down the people on the move and creates additional wounds.
The group stayed in the abandoned house for about one day until the rain finally stopped. This was at night time, so they could directly start their attempt to reach the EU. After walking for about 2km after crossing the border, the respondent spotted a camera in the trees.
Nevertheless, they continued walking for another 25km inside Croatia towards Zagreb. The men were then caught by Croatian police, which they described wearing black uniforms, masks and had guns and batons. The police told them that they saw the men cross the border, but did not catch them in that moment because they wanted them to get tired.
We decided you walk, get tired and then we catch you.
They did not leave any possibility for the men to speak, as soon as they started speaking they raised their batons as a threat. Four more policemen were called. The men were searched by the policemen, who tried breaking the charging port with screwdrivers, however, they did not succeed. They instead only took the power banks. The police then put them in one that according to the respondent looked like a deportation car, which generally is a big van. Inside these vans there are no windows or seats, but there is some form of a fan which releases a bad smell. This smell additional to the ‘crazy’ driving style, a continuous stop and go and using a lot of winding roads, made the respondent throw up in the car. Once the police men opened the doors, they said something in Croatian, which none of the group members understood, and threatened them with their batons by holding them up in the air. This pushback happened early in the morning.
The men then decided to go back to the abandoned house and rest a bit to try again later the same day. They started at around 4 to 5 pm, which is risky since it is not dark yet. However, the respondent was still wondering how the police could have seem them crossing the border the first time, so he was on the lookout for hidden cameras. He spotted this camera right at the border and took a picture of it.
Two kilometers further he saw the police on a quadbike, he describe the uniform as a grey army uniform. When he spotted them he directly started running. During the first push back the police told the men that if they come back, they would take everything from them. With this thought in mind, the respondent decided to run back to Bosnia and Herzegovina. While he was running, he lost his shoes in the forest and had to continue without shoes. The group was also very tired and thus decided to not try a third time.