Refugees Face Police Violence At EU's Balkan Border
Umer Jamshaid 1 month ago Thu 21st October 2021 | 11:45 AM
Huddled around cooking fires as winter looms in Bosnia, refugees are risking beatings and humiliation from Croatian police in the desperate hope of a new life in the European Union
Velika Kladusa (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 21st Oct, 2021 ) :Huddled around cooking fires as winter looms in Bosnia, refugees are risking beatings and humiliation from Croatian police in the desperate hope of a new life in the European Union.
At a ramshackle camp near the northwest Bosnian border town of Velika Kladusa, a group of mostly Afghans is hoping to cross into the EU. Some have been on the road for years and others left as the Taliban overthrew the Western-backed government in August.
Although migrants have long complained of police violence at EU borders, a new investigation by major European media outlets this month uncovered alleged systematic targeting of refugees by special units in Croatia, Greece and Romania.
Even with the threat of violence, Rasool and others still plan to take their chances.
"We prefer the deep woods and possible encounters with dangerous animals," he said, accusing police of being "more dangerous". He once met a bear on one trek through the borderlands.
- Rising violence - Croatia and Bosnia lie along the so-called Balkans route, which has been plied by hundreds of thousands of people from the middle East and Asia in their quest for a new life in Western Europe.
This month's investigation, which was conducted by outlets such as Germany's Der Spiegel and French newspaper Liberation, unearthed video footage showing men in balaclavas and unmarked uniforms assaulting migrants before pushing them back into Bosnia.
"Any such practices are illegal and that national authorities have the responsibility to investigate," European Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said in response.
"The influx of migrants does not suit Europe and less of them will come if the deterrent is more violent," Croatian political commentator Jasmin Klaric told AFP.
Thousands are believed to have entered Croatia through a narrow corridor with Bosnia of dense forests and swollen rivers, with the aim of heading further north into the EU.
"Verbal insults and maltreatment turned into physical violence," said Tea Vidovic of the Zagreb-based advocacy group the Centre for Peace Studies.
"Brussels and some countries act hypocritically," wrote the Croatian daily Vecernji List in a recent editorial.
"It's getting really cold here," he said.