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THE WINDS HAVE CHANGED IN VELIKA KLADUŠA

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By Jule W.

The winds have changed in Velika Kladusa. It has been two weeks since the Miral camp closed and with this, also a change of atmosphere occured. 

This early morning, another round of squat evictions happened in the area. As so often already in the past, police arrived early in the morning when people were still sleeping. They took around 100 people forcibly out of at least five houses and brought them to Lipa camp. Besides, police burnt at least one squat entirely. 

These incidents are yet another violent culmination of the overall more tense situation in Kladusa. Also in the days after the Miral camp was closed two weeks ago, people were randomly picked up from the streets by the police and were forcibly taken to Lipa camp. Many people on the move told us that they didn’t feel safe anymore walking around Velika Kladusa. 

Besides, especially in the first days after the closure of the camp, we met many people on the move that told us they had arrived at the gates of the camp and found it shut down. A lot of people felt very lost and didn’t know where to go. We must bear in mind that, even though the living conditions in Miral were far from ideal- as we discussed here some weeks ago- especially for the most vulnerable people it was a place where basic infrastructure existed. A place that did offer a roof, a place that did offer some basic medical support and food. These structures are now lacking in Velika Kladusa. Due to the remote location of the Lipa camp in the middle of nowhere, people search for other options to stay here in Velika Kladusa. 

Because it is from here that they can start the game, as they call the attempts to go to Croatia and ask for asylum. It is from Velika Kladusa that they can attempt to ask for the realization of a very basic human right. As we must always recall, for many people this is the only way to reach European Union soil, the only way to receive asylum in the EU. 

Thus, as a logical consequence of the camp closure, more people are now residing in abandoned houses and house ruins because there is no other shelter available. With the higher demand also some people on the move are using houses that are more exposed and more visible. This has led to more unkind confrontations between locals, people on the move and also our team. We understand the anger that the local population sometimes feels because the EU and its member states are leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina alone with the task of taking care of people that do not actually want to stay in this country. With upholding the everyday practice of violent and illegal pushbacks from Croatia back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU is giving people on the move no other choice than finding shelter again somewhere here in the area. For more than three years now this has been happening here. The EU, instead of finding ways to create safe migration routes, instead of assuming its historically grown responsibility for global inequalities, instead of granting people their basic human right to asylum, simply leaves it to Bosnia to take care of hundreds of people who have fled war, persecution, hunger or poverty. 

Whenever tensions between the local community and people on the move increase, we must name the root cause of these incidents: the EU’s inhumane and racist way of handling migration. 

Within all this, we are even more grateful for all the local support that is around. For all our Bosnian friends that have been putting endless hours and energy in the support of people on the move over the past years. For the local supermarkets we can cooperate with for our food voucher program. For every single person around here that despite the EU’s failure tries to do something kind for people on the move. Especially during the Eid, the celebration at the end of Ramadan, we witnessed many kind gestures from locals for people on the move.