“They stopped everywhere in the sun, lot of people felt bad. It was a bad situation, even right now I'm not feeling good from that. It's very bad ”

  • Date and time: April 8, 2022 16:00
  • Location: Not far from Melinovac
  • Coordinates: 44.729246311818, 15.9177548275
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 14 person(s), age: 17-15 years old; ages of the Cuban family unknown , from: Afghanistan, Cuba
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, reckless driving, deprivation of air and light
  • Police involved: Local Croatian police officers
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

On Friday 8th April, three Afghan men, including one minor, were pushed back by Croatian police officers, from the area of Melinovac, HR to BiH.

The three young respondents left Velika Kladusa around 3 pm on Thursday 9 April. After walking all day and parts of the night, they crossed the Croatian-Bosnian border at 4 in the morning near the town of Bogovolja. The respondent told that the stretch of the forest they crossed was full of mines and that for this reason, the route was particularly difficult. After crossing the border, they waited until nine in the morning and then decided to call the Croatian IOM, expressing their intention to seek asylum. They pointed out that among them was also a minor and as proof they sent a photo of the police papers to the number where the date of birth of the seventeen-year-old was marked. After providing their location to the IOM they waited for about one hour on the side of the road.

The three respondents were told by IOM that it was only in the power of the police to decide how to act. At one point, the police arrived in a van. The respondent described seeing the police arrive in a big van, which they saw being used in pushbacks before: “When we saw the big car of the inch we understood that we were going to be deported again”. The respondent said the police uniforms were dark blue, probably members of the Croatian Intervention police.

The three men tried to express their intention to seek asylum in Croatian to the police. The respondents described witnessing that for about half an hour the policemen talked to each other, over and over repeating “asyl, asyl, asyl” and then asking the transit group for documents. “We don’t have documents, we all have in the mobile and we sent to the IOM”. During the interview, the respondent repeatedly stressed the confusion that the question of documents caused: He has the feeling that no one in the Croatina police has any idea what documents are even necessary to present in order to prevent a pushback, let alone how to act in the absence of them.

At around 10 in the morning, the policemen forced the three men to enter the back of the van. There was already a Cuban family on board. “They brought us in the car, they didn’t say nothing. There was another family inside, in very bad conditions, a Cuban family.” In total 11 people were crammed into the back of the car completely in the dark. The policemen drove from about 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. The respondent described the driving as crazy, with frequent bends and sudden braking. Due to lack of oxygen, two people fainted and many others vomited. “It was a bad car, close car, we were in there for 7 hours“. The policemen also often stopped the car in the scorching sun. The respondent understood this as an attempt to purposefully overheat the passenger compartment. “They stopped everywhere in the sun, lot of people felt bad. It was a bad situation, even right now I’m not feeling good from that. It’s very bad “.

After 7 hours of driving, the police stopped the van and told the migrants to return to Bosnia. They were pushed back far away from where they were apprehended, somewhere around Bihac. Their phones were returned to the three men at the time of pushback. “We had luck for that. They didn’t take us mobiles or money. Every time we go they take everything from us, it’s a big problem for us. We have always to spend lot of money “.

At the pushback location, they met another newly expelled family who originally came from Nepal. The family had been stripped of everything, telephones, backpacks and were even stripped of their clothes. “They had anything”.
After re-crossing the Bosnian-Croatian border, they reached Bihac where they called IOM. A car picked them up and took them to Lipa where they spent two nights. After two days of resting, they decided to return to Velika Kladusa.