Migration is done by birds, fish, wolves, etc.
Migration has always been a good option for a better life, an option that costs a lot but is not for everyone and only for the better of us. We ?!? We are the population of human beings who are trying to find a safe place, human beings who behave like human beings and live a normal life.
This is the way we refugees have to go to any destination and work to reach our destination, home, safe house, and this work always continues.
The truth that there is no denying leads us to unfamiliar countries because of security, injustice, and thousands of other reasons. Countries that block our way, countries that take our property, countries that wait like wolves in the skin of a lamb.
But when it comes to the name of a refugee, everyone thinks of borders, and the problem is that they are not just borders, the camps and the whole country are problematic, all those people and their living conditions are problematic, until the justice that happens.
People who have no place in the camps and the police do not leave them outside the camps, parents who make shelter for their children under the trees on the street corners, young men who due to the lack of family members with them, they are not allowed to enter the camps, the problems of the refugees cannot be imagined to be over, but one can expect organization and order in their problems."
I first met Zac* (not his real name) in February 2021. He was 17 then. He speaks excellent English and Bosnian as well as Persian and is a keen photographer. It's his words that start this post.
We met in a cafe and chatted about how No Name Kitchen could use some of his photos. It was then that he told me about the boys living outside near the camp. The camp was for families and underage and unaccompanied boys. When the boys turn 18 then they are no longer allowed to stay inside the camp. So they had found a derelict house to sleep in.
Zac met us and introduced us to the group of boys that needed some help and gave us an overview of the situation in the camp. It was then that I learnt more about him. He and his parents and little sister had left Iran more than four years ago. They had lived in Sarajevo - the Bosnian capital - and the kids had gone to school. They applied for asylum in Bosnia. The glacially slow process took months and then their initial claim was rejected. This isn't at all surprising considering the number of successful asylum applications in Bosnia Herzegovina.
NO-ONE is granted asylum.
Compare this with the number of successful asylum claims in Germany and it’s clear that the majority of people from Iran are considered to be deserving of asylum in Germany. They were rejected because literally everyone is.
The day that Zac told me about the rejection, he was crushed. He’s lived the most important years of his life in Bosnia, it wasn’t an option to return to Iran and he knew from other people what it’s like to try and cross into the EU.
He’d just had his 18th birthday - it should have been a time of celebration. In a western European country he would celebrate being an adult, deciding on where to study at university or which job to apply for after school. Instead he was rejected and defeated by politics and nationality.
During that time, Zac continued to help us with translation, connections, photos and the stories of his friends. The last time I saw him, before I left Bosnia, he told me that their appeal against the asylum decision had been rejected and now they had to decide what to do.
On 5th June I had a message. He and his family, along with some friends, had crossed the border into Croatia and been illegally deported. His phone had been taken by the police but he managed to borrow one later to call me and give the details for this report for the Border Violence Monitoring Network.
“[The officers] behaviour, it was f**king bad with us. I was telling him – why do you take our phone, our money? He said to me “my sh*t is better than anyone here.” I said, whatever you want to do, do it.”
Around 10 days later he called me again. This time had been even worse. Not only had the group endured days on end of walking, but the police had mocked them, stolen their belongings and denied their human rights. Zac sounded even more hopeless, but was determined to do something against this unjust treatment. He was so motivated to provide detailed evidence for the report that he injured himself by scratching the numbers of the cars into his skin. Read the next report here.
"The officers asked if the group wanted to claim asylum. The group members replied that they did. The respondent described how the officers first of all said “Ok come with us,” then as the group were getting to their feet, the officers laughed at them and said “what are you doing? Sit down. No one wants to give you asylum.”"
They were in the centre of a European Union capital city and yet still their human right to claim asylum was denied.
Whilst we were chatting, I asked after Zac’s family. “What can I say?” was the only answer he was able to give. I can’t imagine how he or his family are feeling right now. They are stuck in a camp in Bosnia - living in a shipping container.
Zac takes a lot of the responsibility with his language skills and competence, he’s young and fit and has to watch his little sister and parents endure the physical challenges of walking day after day. And that’s without the emotional drain of expecting to be caught at any moment, of knowing what will happen if they are caught but also with the knowledge that they were so close to being safe before.
We've chatted a lot this we about how best to make this blog post and about people we both know. Zac wants to continue providing content for No Name Kitchen. We want to shout about these injustices. The repeated failings of the European Union to show compassion to people that need help.
I'm very proud to know Zac, to benefit from his help while we were in Bosnia, to share creative ideas and to have as a friend. The injustices he has already faced and those yet to come are not acceptable.
It seems really hard to know what to do about this. I know that I and others have felt angry without knowing how to channel that into action. One way to help is by making a donation to No Name Kitchen who are part of Border Violence Monitoring Network and provide volunteers on the ground who collect testimonies.
Like and share my posts on Facebook and Instagram and comment below with messages of support. It really means a lot to me and to Zac.