The situation for hundreds of migrants in camps in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina is gradually getting worse.
One illegal camp has sprung up on the country’s border with Croatia, near the town of Bihac, where there are frequent reports of police brutality.
The camp formed in mid-June, when the people of Bihac protested to have the refugees banned from the centre. Since then, police have been bringing them to the outskirts of the town, to what they call the jungle.
“We didn’t have any other options for where to go. If we try to go to Croatia, Croatia stops us, if we try to go to Bihac, Bihac stops us,” said Naveed Hussain, a 21-year-old from Pakistan.
Most of the 500 or more men in the camp want to make their way north into the European Union but are being intercepted by Croatian and Bosnian police – whom they accuse of heavy-handedness.
Ali Butt, a 26-year-old from Pakistan, said officers had taken his mobile phone and money, punched him and beat him with a stick. Local authorities did not respond to a request for comment.
The camp is on the southern edge of the EU’s external border, and the mountainous region between the two countries is being patrolled.
The EU has now readied its own border force to protect the external frontier, by crossing over into countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We can’t just do that from our side of the borders, from the EU side of the borders. We also need to work with third countries, with our partners, like the Western Balkan countries, like Bosnia and Herzegovina, and support them in their border management,” said European Commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud.
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