The respondent, a 30-year-old Afghan woman, recounts taking the journey with her family to reach the Ljubljana refugee camp, starting in Bosnia Herzegovina. She is on the move together with her husband (26 years old) and her little daughter who is one year old. The family was trying the ‘game’ with two other Afghan families each of which is composed by a couple and their children. Besides the respondent’s daughter in the group there are three other minors of 15, 7 and 5 years old.
The group was on the way for 7 days when they had finished food and water and were exhausted. The respondent comments recalling that moment:
“It is so so hard with children. Like tragedy. We are in the forest, they are afraid and cry. If they cry, police see us and catch us. They are cold but if bring tent police see us and catch us”
The group was only 12 km from the Slovenian border when the police approached them at 2 a.m. The respondent says that she had heard a lot of terrible stories about Croatian police and had seen the wounds of fellow pushed back people. Despite this, she says that she did indeed encounter good mannered police officers. The two male police officers in a light blue uniform with the Croatian flag sewed on it told the respondent that they had been called by locals, even though the respondent is suspicious since the “capture” (respondent’s reference) happened at night in the middle of a forest.
The police officers immediately called another police officer who showed up with a white van with ‘policija’ written on it, in which the families were brought in and taken to the official border between Croatia and BiH at around 4 a.m, after 1 hour of driving.
At the border all the police officers who had been driving the vehicle ordered the people to hand over all their personal belongings including their phones, power banks, bags and even their shoes except from the ones of the children and told them not to look back and walk straight back into Bosnia. The respondent asked politely if she could at least have the phone since it is expensive to buy a new one. At this point two officers came out of the police station of the border, wearing all black uniforms and balaclavas (most likely Croatian special police).
“One of them looked at me and screamed ‘GO’ while threatening to hit me with the baton. I was terrified I know that if we refuse, they beat us. I just held my daughter and ran away. Seven days of walking all finished in 2 hours. And you are back at the beginning”