What lies beneath the snow in Bosnia

Translation of: Cosa c’è sotto la neve di Bosnia

It “only” took the Italian press and the European establishment 22 months to realize the horror of the Balkan route and the obscenities occurring at the border between Bosnia and Croatia with the apparent blessing of the European Union. Maybe they turned their attention to these atrocities unable as they were to report on the opening of the ski season or perhaps because until the fire rages, no one will speak of it, as was the case in Lesbos. 

And who knows if like in Lesbos, it will be little more than a rumor destined to fall out of fashion between politicians, activists, reporters, opinion writers, who are at least today, finally, turning their gaze to the Balkans.

In November 2019, Baobab Experience undertook its first mission trip to Bosnia. We returned during the winter of 2020. The first image captured from the eastern border of fortress Europe was that of a young semi-naked boy making his way back from the border. He was wearing only a t-shirt because everything else had been taken from him: the Croatian police had beaten him bloody, stolen his savings, broken his phone and forced him to return barefoot along inaccessible and snowy paths to Bihac.

It took place out in the open, there in plain view for all to see.

And there, in plain sight for a very long time:

the systematic and violent push back of asylum seekers at the hands of border police;

deaths and disappearances during the so-called game;

the transformation of migrants into trade-able commodities between Brussels and the border countries: a crazy strategy offering financial incentives in exchange for containing the influx of migrants;

perhaps the intentional mismanagement by Bosnian authorities of the processes to receive and process migrant arrivals in order to enhance their demands for assistance: migrant camps intended for brief stays become overcrowded quasi-detention camps;

the ambiguity and indecisiveness of international organizations;

the raids in the squats located between the debris of precariously unsafe buildings where migrants that have been turned away 10, 20, 30 times, find shelter;

the racism and the intolerance of locals that feed on political ineptitude;

the blame game between the European Union, the central Bosnian government, and the governments of the cantons and municipalities;

the cold because in winter it is ALWAYS cold and the temperatures are already below freezing; and,

the commitment and perseverance of local groups in solidarity.

There was no camp at Lipa in Bosnia and Herzegovina. What did exist was a center in Bira, with its documented overcrowding, insufficient hygiene, and its restrictions limiting freedom to leave the facility.  Bira has been replaced with refugee camps in Lipa, further away from the border in order to discourage “the game” and farther away from the eyes of the citizens of the canton of Una Sana. At present, consideration is being given to reopening Bira.

One card wins, and on card loses.

For quite some time we’ve been playing this game on the precipice of what only a few days ago was formally declared a humanitarian crisis. As if continuing to amass human beings at the borders of a territory can generate perhaps a miracle: the heterogenesis of EU purposes through the bottleneck of human lives.

We are organizing our third mission to Bosnia where we will retrace the aid networks built by local activists in order to replenish their supplies, and those of humanitarian associations working in the area. We will provide an objective and analytical assessment that transcends the brief coverage that media outlets provide.

We will be in touch soon! As always, we need you.

Image by the wonderful and talented Mauro Biani

Fonte: Baobab Experience – https://baobabexperience.org/2021/01/29/what-lies-beneath-the-snow-in-bosnia/

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