How Bosnian war refugees forgot their recent past

,

Violence, harsh living conditions, traumatic experiences in their countries of origin, risky travelling, loss of control, security, money, health, family, dignity. They go through their personal Golgotha to escape their war torn homeland and end up in a country that knows war very well.

And then they end up in a whole new type of hell, surrounded by a landmine field. Migrant camp Vučjak in Bosnia & Herzegovina could easily be one of the most inhumane places in Europe. Since 2018, the EU has issued €36 million to B&H to deal with the refugee crisis. Although a number of non-governmental organizations claim that most of the money for managing migrant crisis is used for militarisation of the police, the EU representative claims otherwise: 94% is spent on migrant care.

Migrant camp Vučjak
Source: N1

Well, not in Vučjak, so it seems. On October 21, even the water supply delivery was stopped. With the winter coming, conditions are worsening. ‘Only a matter of time when migrants will start dying’, claim Doctors Without Borders. Although Bosnian government was issued by the EU to urgently close the Vučjak camp almost a month ago and to find a better solution for those people, only a few days ago was it announced that they would be transferred to two old military barracks.

But there is another problem: the reaction of local communities. They don’t want migrants anywhere near. They claim it’s a security issue. The migrant crisis is even being manipulated in everyday political crossfire based on nationalism (like pretty much everything else in Bosnia). Fake news have been produced in order to raise anti-migrant attitudes. In a study that is to be published in December, a half of respondents have expressed negative attitudes towards migrants, even without having any contact with them.

Those people are left to the mercy of a few individuals. Could they have imagined worse destinies as they embarked the ships to a better future?

But why would Bosnians think otherwise anyway? It’s not like they led one of the bloodiest wars in recent European history. It’s not like 2.2 million people were forcibly displaced. It’s not like nearly half a million of them fled B&H. It’s not like they were left with nothing.

It’s not like they know what war and fleeing mean.

A woman refugee from the Serb-besieged Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica.
Source: AFP / Pascal Guyot