Migrant stories: Omid learns the language, Semso is a barber

Migrant stories: Omid learns the language, Semso is a barber

Migrant stories: Omid learns the language, Semso is a barber Izvor: N1

A former Bihac dormitory became a migrant refuge. Moroccans, Algerians, Pakistanis, Iranians, mostly youths think of ways how to cross the border with Croatia, near this northern town. However, some are taking their first steps to becoming Bosnian citizens.

One of the youths is the 12-year-old Omid from Afghanistan. He sees no future for himself in his home country and he has been a refugee for so long, he has even learned to speak the local languages.

"My entire life is in my bag, but I don’t feel good because I have nothing now, no school no home – nothing. I didn’t feel any better while I was in Serbia, either," Omid told N1. "I’ll ask for asylum here because I’m still looking for a country I’ll feel good in, where I’ll be able to go to school and study. I don’t want to look at war anymore. I’ve seen so many ugly things along the way: people drowning at sea, dying… I just want to live my life."

Other nine members of Omid’s family, gathered in one small tent, want the same. They will not give up until they leave Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Some 70 kilometres further in the northern-most town of Velika Kladusa all the locals know an Algerian young man named Chemseddinea Beraft whom they all call Semso, a local variant of his original nickname Chemsou. He found his second home and family here, the Beganovic family who took him in.

Working at a local hair salon, Semso is a hairdresser for his fellow travellers. He has dozens of customers every day but treats all his customers with equal care.

"I want to stay and work here. I want to play football for the local Football Club Krajiski. I don’t want to go anywhere now, because these people are my new family," Semso told N1.

Bihac and Velika Kladusa belong to the same Canton in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, the Una-Sana Canton. This Canton has been hit by the migrant crisis the hardest because it contains the northern-most towns in the country, Bihac and Velika Kladusa, that are the closest to the border with Croatia.

This fact has forced the locals to take to the streets on Saturday night and Sunday morning, demanding that state authorities tackle this problem more seriously because winter is just around the corner and the migrants that keep coming are resorting to crime in order to get the money they need to be able to live in the streets while they wait for the opportunity to cross the border.

Very few among the thousands of individuals and families in the Canton wish to stay and assimilate into the Bosnian society. Most of them feel trapped here and see Bosnia as merely a way station.

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