“Deported during a medical emergency”

  • Date and time: August 11, 2020 14:30
  • Location: Sturlic, Bosnia
  • Coordinates: 45.069656091987, 15.759139752734
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 4 person(s), age: Adults: late 20s / early 30s; 9 year old boy; 16 month old girl , from: Iran
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: insulting, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: Initially: Two Croatian officers wearing black jackets and light blue shirts; additional officers with light blue shirts, gloves and face masks
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Unknown
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

On August 11, a family was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia, while experiencing a medical emergency. The primary respondent for this report is from Iran; he has a nine-year-old son and a sixteen-month-old daughter; together with his wife, they all initially crossed into Croatia from Bosnia near the town of Šturlič earlier that day.

After walking for two or three kilometers, his wife began to feel very unwell. The family approached a local house and asked the residents to call an ambulance; the police were called at this point. By this time the woman was unconscious; the respondent’s son was very frightened and his daughter was crying because she was hungry.

An hour later two Croatian authorities wearing black jackets and light blue shirts arrived in a marked patrol car. The man asked them for an ambulance, but they spoke “bad words” to him, telling him to “get out of here.” He continued to beg for an ambulance, and feared they wanted to “fight him,” but he did not stop asking for help.

After the officers arrived, the group waited a further hour and a half in the rain; the officers said an ambulance was coming. All the while the woman was not awake.

The man then saw a prisoner-transport van down the road, approaching their location and hoped it was coming to take them to a hospital. He describes the driver as very fat, wearing a face mask (medical, not balaclava), gloves and a light blue shirt. He recalled that this man had an aggressive demeanor and was “ready to fight him”.  Again he begged to be taken to the hospital.

He was told by this man, “we are deporting you.” “Please,” he begged, “we are a family.” The officers responded with anger and ordered him to put his wife in the car or else they would do it.

“Do you have a phone?” the officers asked, he confirmed and handed it over. “Do you have powerbanks?” Again the man making this report answered affirmatively and gave them the powerbanks. They broke the phone and powerbanks. They also took a small bag that contained documents, like their camp cards, and chargers. Everything was set on fire. They were only left with the large bag that contained diapers and children’s things.

They were then driven in this van back to the border area north of Šturlič, after which point they were taken out of the van and told to walk back into Bosnia. Once on the other side of the border, they made their way towards the city of Velika Kladuša, during which time he carried his bag and his wife. “My son is small, but he had to carry his sister,” he explained.

Along the way he managed to call the police; they called IOM, who manage the camps, to come get his wife, but did not themselves come. Again the family waited and the woman still did not awaken. Bosnian people came to help, bringing water and trying to wake the wife, but they could not take them to a hospital, because this is forbidden in Bosnia. Seven hours later an ambulance came: they had been deported at 2:30 pm and at 9:30 pm the ambulance arrived.

“These are not human rights,” the man repeated.