“I just held my daughter and ran away. Seven days of walking all finished in 2 hours. And you are back at the beginning”

  • Date and time: August 22, 2021 04:00
  • Location: Maljevac, road 216 (Croatia)
  • Coordinates: 45.198715167127, 15.791176861763
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: Ten person(s), age: 1-42 years old , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: theft of personal belongings, threatening with weapons
  • Police involved: Three officers in light blue uniform, two officers in black uniform and balaclavas, one white van marked "Policija"
  • 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

The respondent, a 30-year-old woman from Afghanistan, was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia on August 22. 

The respondent explained that she, her husband (aged 26) and her one-year-old daughter, began their journey in Bosnia and wanted to reach the Ljubljana refugee camp in Slovenia. She said she was with two other families from Afghanistan, one of which was comprised of a couple and their children. There were reportedly three other minors in the group, aged 5, 7 and 15. 

The respondent recalled that the transit group were on the move for seven days, exhausted and had finished their food and water. As described by the respondent: 

“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”

According to the respondent, the group was an estimated 12 km from the Slovenian border when two male officers in light blue uniforms with the Croatian flag sewn on approached them at approximately 2 AM. She mentioned that she had heard numerous stories about the Croatian police and had seen the wounds of people who were pushed back. Despite this, she says that she did encounter good-mannered police officers. The two uniformed men reportedly informed the group that locals had called the police on them, although the respondent was sceptical about this since the “capture” happened at night in the middle of a forest. 

The respondent reported that the officers immediately called for backup, and another officer arrived in a white van marked ‘Policija’. The families were subsequently put into the van and driven for what the respondent estimated to be one hour until they reached the “official” border between Croatia and Bosnia at approximately 4 AM.

According to the respondent, at the border, the officers who had been driving the vehicle ordered the people to hand over their personal belongings, which included their phones, power banks, bags and even their shoes, with the exception of children’s shoes. They reportedly ordered the transit group to not look back and walk straight back to Bosnia. The respondent said she 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 at the border, described as wearing all-black uniforms and balaclavas.

“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”