Quelle: Welcome! Initiative Zagreb

New arrivals are overall decreasing since 2015, but of course not stopping: refugees are not able to transit through South-Eastern Europe and are increasingly getting ‘stuck’ in transit countries, resulting in overcrowded camps, with limited resources to ensure any kind of standards of a dignified life.

It’s enough to stress how people in Miral refugee camp, in Una-Sana Canton of Bosnia and Herzegovina, says how the place reminds them of Moria camp, in Greece. Vulnerable groups that would need particular attention – like unaccompanied minors, families, persons with special needs – are still placed in overcrowded former-factories structures, with unacceptable hygienic conditions and very few activities or services actually functioning. Even if it has been announced that vulnerable groups will be accommodated in Borići camp (future full capacity: 580 people, currently 150 people are inside), this is still not happening due to structural problems. Workers in the camps, as well as the population, are denouncing the total absence of state responsibility and political will to take over the delicate reception conditions in the country. The local population, which has been showing and actively practicing solidarity since January 2018, are being ignored or threatened by the authorities due to their active support provided to refugees.

After the ultimatum given by the Una-Sana Canton to the Ministry of Security, on 21 February, Interior Minister of Una-Sana Canton Nermin Kljajić, stated that on Friday the first 250 refugees will be transported out of the Canton, in Ušivak camp close to Sarajevo.

Volunteers from No Name Kitchen keep being subjected to the criminalization of their work. Among others, one reason for criminalizing humanitarian aid is removing unwanted testimonies. NNK wrote: „They don’t want eyes that see and later speak about the wide range of irregularities. But the fact that they force the people reporting border violence to leave will not stop Croatian police from beating and robbing. We will not give up – because people are important to us – and also to every single person who has decided to support our work“. NNK volunteers, present also in Šid, a town in Serbia at the border with Croatia, on 20 February early in the morning, saw the places where they were providing their services evicted by police officers. They wrote us: “At dawn on Wednesday the Serbian police entered by force in a former factory where 100 migrants live, many of them minors, depriving them of tents, sleeping bags, blankets and their personal belongings such as telephone and money. Violence, absolutely unjustified and above all avoidable, has affected both migrants and two volunteers, who have been beaten, palpated and threatened with death”. Follow NNK FB page for further updates.

Two independent volunteers documented a new case of violence under the title „Stories of ordinary violence from the border between Bosnia and Croatia“ on Meltingpot Europa. A refugee has been not only violently pushed back by Croatian authorities but has been also deprived of his clothes and shoes, forcing him to walk back to Bosnia barefoot. He’s inside a camp at the moment, with frostbites, refusing medical care, thus clearly showing to be in a serious traumatic state.

In addition, on February 18th, the Info Park Belgrade condemned pushbacks perpetrated by Croatian police that are happening even from Zagreb and just border area. They conducted an interview with three men who voluntarily returned to Serbia after having spent 5 months in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The men claimed that they managed to cross irregularly into Croatia several times, reaching Zagreb, but were denied the right to seek asylum, and returned to Bosnia consequently.

Volunteers and activists on border areas are not the only ones denouncing the illegal behavior of Croatian police officers: the major of Bihać Šuhret Fazlić accused the Croatian police of illegal entrance into the Bosnian territory and pushbacks of people to Bosnia. Fazlić’s allegations regarding the Croatian police’s conduct were presented at the Bihać City Council session.

Another positive change at the local level– At the City Council of Zagreb, asylum seekers have been included in a category entitled to obtain benefits provided through the social support system of the City of Zagreb; that means that asylum seekers will have access to all the rights and benefits generated through the social aid programs.

Zur Situation auf der Balkanroute