The respondent started by stating:
“We were very lucky with the police this time.”
He explained the experience of a group of families from Iraq and Syria traveling from Cazin, BiH, on foot into Croatia. They walked around eight hours until they reached a river which they had to cross walking. The level of the water wasn’t very high, but the children had to be carried on their parents’ backs.
The journey led them to a mountain which they crossed, afterwhich they waited in a remote area for a scheduled ride. After waiting for four days with no sign of this transport, the families ran out of food and water and decided to turn themselves in to the police.
“We met some nice men cutting wood in the jungle who gave us food and water and pointed us in the right direction. We call this the wood-cutter’s road.”
They noticed a helicopter circling above them and shortly after a police car with two Croatian officers appeared.
“They were very nice police, they brought us water and biscuits and didn’t even search us, they didn’t destroy anything, there was no violence.”
The group sat on the floor and waited for a police van to arrive. When the police arrived, the respondent shared that:
“I said to them that I want to give my fingerprints but they just pointed at the van for me to go inside.”
The van drove to a police station around 30 minutes away and parked in front of the station. They were waiting in the parked van for 45 minutes.
“We heard two police officers fighting. One of them was saying Zagreb and the other one ‘ne ne Bosna’.”
The police opened the door of the van so the group could breathe properly, but did not allow them to step outside nor did they remove the metal bars (wire mesh door that sealed the rear). There was no police procedure conducted vis a vis identification or paperwork. The van drove for another hour and a half to a remote mountain on the border with BiH. The police pointed the group the way to go, and then left.
On the way back the families had to cross another mountain, they continued walking for around 5 – 6 hours until reaching Velika Kladuša. There was no bus to take them to the camp so they slept in a garage until they found a way to return to Sedra camp.