On Bosnia's border with Croatia, migrants stranded, sick and desperate

A woman from Afghanistan cries in the village of Bosanska Bojna, Bosnia, Saturday, May 22, 2021.
A woman from Afghanistan cries in the village of Bosanska Bojna, Bosnia, Saturday, May 22, 2021. Copyright Edvin Zulic/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By AP
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Many families with young children are sleeping out in the open and face violence from border guards. 'People are getting sick', one warned.

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Dozens of migrant families with small children have been sleeping rough in a village by Bosnia’s border with Croatia while looking for a chance to cross and move on toward Western Europe.

People fleeing war and poverty in their countries in the Middle East, Africa or Asia are staying in small tents and abandoned houses with no running water or electricity.

The village, the Bosanska Bojna, was all but emptied during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia. Many houses remain unoccupied or badly damaged. Some of the migrants there said there were ill people among them but no doctor is anywhere near the village.

'People are sick'

“The situation here is not normal, it’s not good. Some people are sick,” Safirahmad Malikzadeh, who is from Afghanistan, said Saturday. “We don’t have any toilet and water to drink."

Some people could be seen washing with bottled water, while children played on blankets. Several young men were in sleeping bags out in the open.

Edvin Zulic/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Migrants rest near the village of Bosanska Bojna, Bosnia, Saturday, May 22, 2021.Edvin Zulic/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Bosnian authorities want the migrants to stay in asylum-seeker camps and have banned delivery of humanitarian aid to makeshift settlements.

There are thousands of migrants currently stranded in Bosnia, mainly in official camps. They arrived in Bosnia hoping to cross into Croatia, a European Union nation, and from there travel on toward wealthier EU countries.

Croatian police heavily guard the border, pushing back people trying to cross illegally. They face allegations of violence and abuse against migrants, which they have denied.

Another Afghan citizen, Arzo Azemy, said she tried to reach Croatia from Bosanska Bojna several times in the past two months but was pushed back every time. 

Crying, the woman alleged that Croatian police took her husband's money and other belongings the last time the couple tried to cross.

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