Harsh winter spell doom for migrants stranded in Bosnia

BIHAC, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Hundreds of irregular migrants are stranded at Bosnia and Herzegovina’s border with Croatia.

Only 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from the Croatian border, 700 irregular migrants, mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan, are living in subhuman conditions in a makeshift camp, with only the dream of reaching the prosperous western European countries keeping them alive.

The camp is surrounded by garbage and has no drinking water.

The only help they get is in the shape of food distributed twice a day by charities.

Some migrants earn money by charging mobile phones through the electricity they produce with a small generator. Others sell food they cook on firewood at a nearby market.

Just before sunset, a group of migrants leaves the camp to reach Croatia, an EU nation, through the dense forests.

“This is the way to Italy,” said one of the migrants, pointing to the dirt road leading into the forest.

Many of them have tried to cross the border. But they are caught by the Croatian police and returned to Bosnia.

Mustafa, who set out from Pakistan a year ago and gave only his first name, said he had tried to cross the border five times.

“I want to go to Italy, but I got caught every time. When the Croatian police catch us, they take what we have. They even take our shoes and coats and send us back in this cold weather,” he said.

Anwar, another Pakistani who gave only his first name, said the situation at the camp is terrible.

“There are no toilets, no food, no place to sleep. The biggest problem is the lack of water. In addition, we sleep on the floor, one of the things we need is blankets,” he added.

Despite repeated warnings by the EU, no alternative has been found for the camp. The situation is expected to deteriorate as the harsh winter approaches.

* Writing by Talha Ozturk

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