Hundreds of migrants have gathered around a campfire some 100 metres off the most northwestern-border crossing to neighbouring Croatia on Tuesday evening, determined to spend the cold night there while pleading for the border to open so they can continue their path toward Western EU countries.
The migrants who had gathered at the Maljevac border crossing, near the town of Velika Kladusa want to continue their trip but the border police are not letting them cross.
The migrants lit a campfire and put together improvised tents to warm up as the temperature has fallen to some 12 degrees Celsius.
Several unknown people have provided the women and children with blankets and food. Border police officers are trying to convince the migrants to return to migrant centres where they were staying in Bosnia, while temperatures are getting lower by the hour.
“Some 100 metres off the border between Bosnia and Croatia, a group of some 80 migrants arrived at about 12:00 pm. This number increased to about 350-400 as the day went on. There are people who fall into vulnerable categories there, women and children,” Border Police spokesperson Sanela Dujkovic said.
“There have until now not been any urgent medical interventions,” she said, but added that “we are talking about people who do not have documents needed for leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina and entering Croatia.”
Dujkovic said that three migrant attempts to push through the Border Police blocks failed.
“There were no major incidents, they did not use any melee weapons,” she said.
Despite all this, traffic at the border crossing was not halted.
“We, residents living on the Croatian side, are daily facing this problem. This is not just a problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is also a problem in Croatia,” said Admir Muhic, from the village Maljevac nearby.
“We come across them daily, and on the Croatian roads they pop up from out of the woods, cross borders,” Muhic said.
But the issue is also problematic because the border is frequently blocked, he said.
“We in a way endure damage from this entire situation, while they (migrants) endure it the most. We understand both the police forces, we understand them (migrants) as well, the governments. However, we need to be understood too,” he said.
“Of course, we feel for them as we were also at some point refugees and suffered on the paths we were on. They are not interested in Bosnia or Croatia, they are interested in Western European countries,” Muhic said.