Croatian police officers have shot two refugee children while trying to stop a van that was smuggling 29 people from Bosnia to Croatia. The incident happened on Croatian soil, near Donji Lapac in Zadar county. While the smuggler ran away, two children and several wounded adults were transferred to Zadar hospital, where one child with facial gunshot wounds had urgent surgery and had to be transferred to Zagreb hospital for the additional reconstructive surgery of the jaw and face. According to medical sources, there were 15 children in the van — the youngest being seven years old. In total, seven people ended up in the hospital. Both children, aged 12, had facial wounds from the gunfire and remain under intensive care.
Die Zahl der Flüchtlinge, die es von der Türkei über die Westbalkanstaaten bis zur Grenze der EU schaffen, hat rasant zugenommen. Das berichtet die Wochenzeitung „Die Zeit“ in ihrer aktuellen Ausgabe. Der „Brennpunkt der illegalen Migration“ ist nach Auskunft des Bundesinnenministeriums (BMI) Bosnien-Herzegowina.
It was not until the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner sent an official letter to the government that did it finally decide to act. One of its initiatives was to transfer 270 people from Sarajevo to Salakovac asylum centre, near the city of Mostar. But as with many things in Bosnia, not all went according to plan. The Croat-dominated police force of the Hercegovina-Neretva Canton, where the Salakovac centre is located, decided to defy the decision of the national government. On May 18, they intercepted the buses carrying the refugees on their way to the centre, blocking their passage and causing a five-hour standoff.
Groups of migrants and refugees have set up an improvised tent camp in a park near City Hall in Sarajevo as the Bosnian authorities try to find a solution to deal with the increasing number of people using the country as a transit route to Western Europe this year. Migrants in the camp declined to be interviewed for this article, just saying that they want to continue their journey towards the EU. It is estimated that there are several hundred migrants at the camp but the Sarajevo authorities do not have any data on how many. Local Sarajevans bring them food and other supplies.
Eigentlich wollte in Europa niemand mehr verstörende Bilder von Flüchtlingen sehen: auf dem Rasen sitzende junge Familien mit ihren Kleinkindern, Gruppen von scheu um sich blickenden Männern, verzweifelte Frauen, die um Essen und eine Unterkunft für ihre Kinder bitten. Daneben kranke Menschen, in Decken gewickelt, nur unzulänglich versorgt. Doch solche Szenen spielen sich jetzt in einem kleinen Park gegenüber der Vijećnica, dem alten Rathaus und der ehemaligen Staatsbibliothek der bosnischen Hauptstadt Sarajevo, ab.
When you think of refugees in connection with Bosnia and Herzegovina, you may think of people displaced by fighting in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. But today the country is facing a different kind of refugee crisis as it strains to safeguard the rights of a growing number of people from other regions who are seeking protection. According to the UNHCR, 1,138 asylum seekers and migrants arrived to Bosnia between January 1 and March 3, more than the total for 2017. Most of them are from Syria, followed by Pakistan, Libya, and Afghanistan. Some are fleeing conflict and human rights abuses, while others are seeking a better life.
Conditions for asylum seekers are deteriorating against the backdrop of increasing numbers of arrivals in Slovenia. According to the Slovenian Police, increasing transit through Bosnia and Herzegovina to Croatia and then to Slovenia is one of the factors accounting for the rise in arrivals so far in 2018. In the first four months of the year, the Slovenian Police apprehended 1,226 persons for irregular border-crossing, a substantial (280%) increase from 322 apprehensions during the same period in 2017. A rise in asylum applications has also been reported, with 798 registered in the four months of 2018, compared to 1,476 in the entire year 2017. The increase in asylum applications has largely affected reception conditions in the Asylum Home, the facility in Ljubljana where newly arrived people are placed and undergo registration. More persons are being de facto detained in the pre-reception area of the Asylum Home and face substandard conditions due to the overcrowded facilities.
Only 3 months after the horrible death of a pushed back 6-year old girl Madina, for whose death nobody has still been held accountable, her family has again been exposed to illegal and cruel treatment of the Croatian state. In the night of March 8, a 17-year old girl sent us a disturbing call for help. She notified AYS that, along with another family, her family is in the Croatian territory, in the village Strošinci. She also said they are very cold and that they wish to ask for international protection in Croatia. They group had 11 children along, among them 2 babies. They asked us to contact the police on their behalf and notify them about the intention to seek asylum in Croatia. After we asked about their names, it was evident that they were Madina’s family, confirmed later by them. We have informed the police (local police station by phone and the official email contact), the UNHCR, Croatian Law Centre and the Ombudswoman. Although Madina’s family feared meeting with the police again due to fear of being pushed back again, realizing it was the only way to ask for asylum in Croatia, they approached the officers in the area and said they wanted to ask for asylum. According to the family’s statements, instead of answering their demands for medical assistance for the children and providing the option of asking for international protection, the officers reportedly laughed when they saw who was informed about this, they searched through their belongings and went through their messages in the phone in detail, later on letting them go back to Serbia. What strikes us particularly is that the push back happened in a very similar way as it did in the night when their 6-year old daughter died on the train tracks: both families were forced to return to Serbia with their small children.
Der Nachmittag ist drückend. Hinter den letzten Häusern des Dorfs liegen drei Männer unter einem Baum im Schatten. Sie dösen. Einige Meter hinter ihnen fließt träge die Korana. Sie ist weder breit noch tief. Auch einen Zaun gibt es nicht. Nur, dass auf der anderen Seite der Uferstreifen gerodet ist, fällt auf. Die Männer ruhen sich aus. Ihre Kräfte werden sie noch brauchen. In ein paar Stunden, wenn es dunkel ist, wollen sie über den Fluss hinüber, nach Kroatien.