Two weeks after returning from a second trip to Bosnia, I’m not looking back with the same reflection that I had last time. Because it is still real. My friends message me about their daily lives, including when they have been pushed back from Croatia or Slovenia.
THEY HAVE A LEGAL RIGHT TO ASK FOR ASYLUM.
I was naive to think that people didn’t know about the illegal actions of the Croatian, Greek and Slovenian border forces. Funded by the European Union, these officers are paid by taxpayers to illegally and brutally remove vulnerable people in unforgivably dangerous ways. Every testimony I collected for the Border Violence Monitoring Network included not only illegal removal across an international border, but theft and destruction of personal property.
“I understand that their job is to remove us, but why steal and break our things?”
And Bosnia is beautiful. The mountainous landscape around the city has trails to explore and stunning views to discover. On one of the last mornings, Stephanie and I had a breakfast picnic at a small viewpoint just outside Bihać, overlooking the stunning River Una. Grateful for everything we had and everything we had given.
For me now, it’s not a case of having ‘done my bit’ and moving on to something else.
The situation at the borders of the EU has to change. It has to.
Every one of us needs to do something about this. Us in the UK, no longer EU members, what can we do? We seem so detached from these problems which are so far away.
How I see it, there are two things you can do:
1. Make yourself aware of the circumstances and talk about it.
It seems so small, but gradually changing public opinion can only be a good thing. And it makes those of us who are campaigning feel better about the work we are doing. For a start, follow BVMN on Twitter.
2. Challenge what is happening in the UK.
What if the UK were a gold-standard in the way that refugees and asylum seekers were treated? Some of those who arrive to the UK will have come via Bosnia or Serbia. They have faced an extremely hard time in order to arrive at Britain's safe shores, we need to ensure that they are welcomed and given every opportunity to succeed.
Sign up to volunteer locally. Care4Calais are a good place to find out more. Honestly, the rewards of meeting new people and feeling useful are tremendous!
Simply liking and commenting on Facebook, Instagram and Tweets of organisations such as Seawatch, Aegean Boat Report and of course No Name Kitchen shows support and increases the reach of these important posts.
Whatever you are able to do, keep in touch. Send me messages, ask me questions and read my posts. Because I’m not letting this go.