On Sunday, the 8th of May 2022, a group of 18 people from Pakistan was pushed back from Varaždin in Croatia to Bosnia after five days of walking through the so-called “Jungle” [Forest].
The two respondents from Pakistan (23 and 28 years old) described they started walking from the Bosnian town of Velika Kladuša on the 3rd of Mai at 3 a.m. and crossed the Bosnian-Croatian border at around 5 a.m. together with a group of 23 people. The group walked in a line for the whole time and after three days they went out of food and water. Reportedly, one person was hit by a stone and had to continue walking with a provisionally treated laceration to the head. Moreover, the group, of which 5 persons had meanwhile detached themselves, did not get much sleep because they were afraid of animals during the night.
After five days of walking, the group had to cross a main road and was discovered by a local taxi driver. Only ten minutes later, a white police car arrived at their location (Coordinates: 46°05’01.8″N 16°16’36.9″E) and four people in dark blue uniforms with “Policija” written on the back got out of the car. The uniform suggests that they were Croatian regular police officers. According to the respondents, the police officers showed their badge to the group and requested them to put all personal belongings on one spot.
“Any mobile phones, put down”, they said, “if anyone keeps the mobile you’ll have a problem”.
After the officers checked all bags and items of the group, they called for reinforcement. A white van arrived with the inscription “Policija” on blue stripes and no windows in the back. The two officers who got out of this car were wearing dark blue uniforms as well, suggesting they were regular police officers too. The group was forced to get in the overheated van, which contained two benches on both sides and was – as described – far too small for the 18 people who had to squeeze onto the benches or sit on the floor. Reportedly, the car driving was very reckless and many people had to throw up during the ride that lasted for what felt like five to six hours. According to the respondents, the oxygenation was so low that it felt difficult to breath.
The group was brought to a police station in Croatia, whose location remained unclear to the respondents. At this place, the group was photographed, forced to sign documents which were written in Croatian and not translated to the group. The police officers told the group that the documents could be the admission to the camp in Zagreb, which turned out to be a lie. Hereafter, the group was imprisoned for two hours. The request for food was denied by the officers, but they were supplied with water after all.
Finally, another prisoner transport van arrived at the police station and after another 1-2 hours car riding, the group arrived at the Croatian side of the Bosnian border near Vrnograč. The group got handed out their personal belongings, most of their phones were destroyed. Still, the respondents were surprised that their bags were not set on fire as in their previous attempts and that the police officers did not beat them up. The respondents described the behavior of the police as “respectful“, although they laughed about them applying for asylum and rudely told them to leave Croatia: “go, go, go, go fast!“.