In 2019, the number of migrants arriving in Europe from the Turkish territory (70,000) doubled compared to the previous year. These figures show that it is not enough to sign international agreements with transit countries and build walls along the borders to stop the determination of those who, for a conscious choice or for urgent needs, decide to leave their land and travel to reach a new life in Europe.
After the closure of the border by the Hungarian authorities in September 2015, people have opened a new route, passing from Serbia to Croatia, a country that recently had the pass to enter the Schengen area. But the border between Serbia and Croatia is limited in size and can be easily controlled by the Croatian border police. Thus, in the last two years about 50,000 people have reached Bosnia and crossed the border with Croatia via the canton of Una Sana, at the north-west tip of the country.
Here people try to pass through the mountain passes near Bihac or in the hills of Velika Kladusa but in most cases they are blocked, robbed, beaten and rejected by the Croatian police once they cross the border. This violent blockade and the advancing winter have forced thousands of people to find refuge in abandoned factories and houses, in reception centers and in unofficial camps, such as the "jungle" of Vucjak, which grew rapidly near Bihac to accommodate about 1500 people, mostly waiting to cross the border. The pressure of the international media, which exposed the inhuman conditions of the jungle and the willingness of the mayor of Bihac to comply with the protests of the local population in view of the elections in 2020, led the Bosnian authorities to clear the jungle of Vucjak and deport hundreds of people to old unused barracks near Sarajevo and Mostar.
But as always, moving and clearing up a problem does not mean solving it.
To date, in fact, it is estimated that about 5,000 people are present in the canton of Una Sana waiting to cross the border and that every day more than 100 people are trying to cross it and are brutally rejected by the Croatian border police. Those who manage to get to Slovenia risk the same treatment and deportation to Croatia and then back to Bosnia. They are mainly men between 20 and 35 years old, coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and some North African countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. But there are more than 20 nationalities represented and there are many unaccompanied minors and families.
The life on the border is an extremely precarious life on the edge, the abandoned houses and factories where people find temporary shelter from snow and frost are in dire condition. People rarely have the opportunity to receive medical care, hot meals and showers and legal attention.