Voices from Bosnia


Bihać – Bira refugees centre

On Oslobođenje 21/01/2019

di Federica Iezzi

Bihać – The answers also come from the broken spirits and the bruised bodies of people like Maned.

A jacket of some size larger, a bag on the shoulders, an hand always stretched towards those who are more in difficulty.

Maned has traveled for miles to reach with his family Bihać.

“We walked for 15 hours a day, every day. Our journey started in 2015 in Herat “, he tells us. With a bus from Kabul they reached the city of Zaranj, in the southwestern afghan province of Nimroz, on the border with Iran and Pakistan. “We traveled with 20 other people, we passed the iranian border at Pul-e-Abrisham and then the border with Turkey, to reach the eastern turkish Van province”. The journey continues on foot, following traffickers, to the western turkish city of Edirne, on the border with Greece. “We spent a year trapped in Idomeni, in wet tents and unofficial camps. Then the transition to the Macedonian town of Lojane, a receptacle of traffickers and corruption, on the northeastern border with Serbia. For another year we were rebounded from one refugees camp to another in Serbia”. From Serbia to Bosnia the last obstacle is the city of Zvornik, on the Drina river. Defeated by fatigue and pain, stripped of his last savings, he says “I’m an engineer and I’m not working since 2015”.

How do smugglers get paid? This is one of the most interesting of the findings.

Migrant families don’t pay the money directly to smugglers, they pay the money to a third party, usually a money handler, normally in one of the main bazaars in Kabul. The money is only released by that third party to the smuggler once the migrant has arrived safely in his or her country of destination. So think about this, there is a money-back guarantee on smuggling. If you don’t make it to your destination safely the smuggler gets nothing. The money taken from the third party, from the money handler, goes back to the family and the whole deal is called off. This is how it works in Afghanistan.

Oslobodjenje ‘Migrantske rute su i rute trgovaca ljudima’

On Oslobođenje 14/01/2019

di Federica Iezzi

Bihać –  Usman can’t walk for more than half an hour without stopping. It is the sad result of croatian police violence on the refugees. “I walked tirelessly from Lashkar Gah”.

In the last weeks the italian NGO One Life ONLUS, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has regularly treated patients, sometimes even women and small children, with wounds allegedly inflicted by state authorities when attempting to cross into Croatia, where, according to their testimonies, their claims for asylum and protection are regularly ignored.

Painful arms and legs, with visible bruises under the clothes and under the covers, are the news masks of the harsh Bosnian winter.

“I left Bira refugees centre, in Bihać, in the afternoon. It is an open camp”, Usman tells us. At the entrance to the field there is an almost frenetic coming and going of people.

“I stayed out all afternoon, I had my backpack with me, so maybe someone understood that I wanted to try to play – The Game -. I walked until Velika Kladuša”. From the north-western city of Bosnia, the border with Croatia is two kilometers away.

“At the border I was beaten by policemen”. Usman has extensive bruises on his leg, back and face.

The staff of Bira refugees center in Bihać know the stories like Usman one. They keep the bed for 48 hours for people who try to cross the border: it is sufficient time to understand if they can pass or if they are sent back.

After repeatedly being pushed back or forced to return to Bosnia on their own, asylum seekers find themselves in settlements such as open fields and squats while formal government camps are full.

“The use of violence is clearly not acceptable. It’s not acceptable under European human rights law, it’s not acceptable under international human rights law and it is to my mind also, not necessary.  It is possible to control borders in a strict matter without violence”, tell us dr Federica Iezzi, president of italian NGO One Life ONLUS.

Oslobođenje ‘Čemu nasilje policije nad izbjeglicama?’