زوړ کور | Kandvala by Sitara Thalia Ambrosio & Iván Furlan Cano
For years, Bihać in northwestern Bosnia has been the final stop for thousands of refugees. Here is one end of the so-called Balkan route and therefore a strictly guarded gateway to the European Union. Many refugees are stuck here indefinitely. Again and again, they take on what they call "The Game." In small groups, they try to cross the border. A dangerous "game." Many of those affected report that anyone who encounters Croatian border officials often is beaten, robbed and sent back. Everything starts all over again.
We have tried to illuminate numerous aspects - an extensive story is the result. The following journey takes about 45 minutes. It is best to watch the story in landscape mode on your phone or on a large screen.
Danny Pt. 2
In April 2021, he tries to cross the EU's external border for the 20th time. In vain.
Danny Zimmer Pt. 3
In "Kandvala", he sleeps on an old mattress. Sleeping bags, old sofas and garbage are piled up everywhere. Little light penetrates through the holes in the walls. The countless attempts to cross Europe's green border with Croatia have pushed other thoughts to the back of Danny's mind. Life here is a daily struggle.
Danny, 18 years old
Drinking tea and cooking together determines their everyday life, and this is where they share their thoughts.
Überleitung Briefe Naseebullah, 19 Jahre alt
They all share similar stories; of uncertainty, loss and violence.
Naseebullah, 19 years old
Jahadullah, 18 years old
Nooruddain, 23 years old
Qudrat, 17 years old
Hassan, 24 years old
Watch some TikToks
Many of the people on the move use social networks, such as the video platform "TikToK", to share what they have experienced during their flight. Videos can be found on the Internet of food being served in the camps, but also of attempts to cross the EU's external border. For many people on the move, this is a way to draw attention to their situation - from their own perspective. Hassan is no exception.
In the midst of a pile of rubble, a spot has been shoveled free; a golden-blue carpet lies on the dirty mattress.
Danny, like many other refugees in "Kandvala", does not miss any of the five prayers a day.
Elena Pt. 2
She has been living in the Netherlands without papers since she was 18 years old. Until, after 22 years, she is reported to the police and deported back to Ukraine; the country she left two decades earlier.
While trying to re-enter the EU through Hungary, she is caught and subsequently ends up in Bihać.
DAILY LIFE IN "KANDVALA"
Don Penzionera / Kandvala
Drinking tea together, listening to each other and spending time together also plays a major role.
Hygiene Pt. 2
To wash themselves, the men have to go to the nearby river "Una" when the outside temperature is sometimes no more than twelve degrees.
Baden Pt. 3
As a result the disease spreads rapidly and the costly treatments are slow to take effect.
Hygiene Pt. 2
There is no electricity in the ruins, therefore - if it is possible - washing is done by hand.
In winter it gets so cold in the rooms, that even the water on the floor freezes.
Kochen Pt. 2
Due to the fire as the only source of heat, the walls are covered with soot.
Sport Pt. 2
For a brief moment, the sport breaks through the monotonous daily routine. In front of the building, two much too large teams are playing volleyball, dozens of men are standing around outside. For a small moment, everything else doesn't matter.
Sprung zur Planung
Back in the building, the first refugees pack their backpacks again. "Kandvala" is only a temporary place, even if Europe forces many to stay longer.
The next destination for most is Trieste, the first major city after the Slovenian-Italian border. There are various ways to get there. Most of the time, the refugees make their way to Italy on foot, for the most part away from major roads and any civilization, in order to remain undetected. Others try to get into the trailers of trucks. Those who have money pay a smuggler.
One of them is Danny's best friend. To gather strength for the exhausting next hours, some of them cook curry and fried chicken on an open fire.
Danny Pt. 2
Danny vor der Grenze
Border Violence Einleitung
Border Violence Einleitung
As those affected report, the border guards often wear masks so that their faces cannot be recognized.
Volunteer medical forces on the scene describe the injuries as targeted and in no way random violence.
For example, arms and shoulders are broken so that backpacks can no longer be carried. Legs, on the other hand, are spared so that people can still walk back.
Karte mit Pfeilen animiert
Illegal returns to Bosnia and Herzegovina, so-called "pushbacks", do not only occur from neighboring countries. There were also several illegal pushbacks from Italy, Slovenia and Austria between January and April 2021.
Source: Danish Refugee Council
Again and again there are deaths during the attempts to reach Europe.
People die from old landmines from the times of the civil war, exhaustion or the consequences of brutal attacks by Croatian border officials, as refugees repeatedly report.
Since the identity of many of the dead cannot be determined, green wooden plaques with the inscription "Unknown Face" are left behind at the end; they are erected by the Muslim community.
ZURÜCK BEI DON
On February 24, 2021, another eviction of "Kandvala" will take place, it is not the first of its kind. Again and again such operations take place. They are representative of a policy that is carried out on the backs of the weakest.
The camp is located on the Balkan route, at an altitude of 750 meters, and can only be reached via dirt roads.
The camp is not weatherproof, quite the opposite: Already at the beginning of October 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warns of a humanitarian crisis due to the upcoming winter.
Zustände im Lipa Camp
The affected men are not left with many options, except to live in abandoned houses or in the mostly overcrowded "Lipa" camp, which is located 25 kilometers from the border town of Bihać.
The camps near the border are not meant for them; women and minors live here.
Again and again those affected report about bad or even no food, they are not allowed to cook themselves. Many of them therefore decide in the end to live in a ruined building - without infrastructure and strict controls.
Despite repeated police evacuations of the ruins, many return there again.
In view of the catastrophic situation on the Bosnian-Croatian border, the question arises as to what the EU is contributing to humanitarian aid on the ground. After all, the right to asylum is also enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.Most of the EU's money goes to IOM, the International Organization for Migration, whose mission, according to its own statement, is to manage refugee flows, help find practical solutions to migration problems, and provide humanitarian assistance to refugees in need.
Since February 2021 ...
After another eviction of the building "Kandvala", many of the residents are in tents on the outskirts of Bihać - afraid of the police.
With the beginning of the summer months, more refugees stop in Bihać on their way to Europe. Providing food and other essentials to all the people is becoming increasingly difficult for the last NGOs still working outside the official camps.
Also due to official pressure, many NGOs can no longer regularly supply the wild camps with food.
Elena continues to live in Bihac. In the meantime, she is the only woman living in "Kandvala". Her hope is to be physically fit enough by summer to make another attempt to get to Europe.
Hassan makes it to Slovenia after his sixth attempt, there he will now stay temporarily in one of the shelters, his friends are still in Bihac.
Danny made it to Italy in May after 13 days of walking, and shortly thereafter made it to Switzerland.
After some time in quarantine, he now lives in a refugee shelter and has applied for asylum.
For current information
Special thanks for the recording of the letters go to:
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Sitara Thalia Ambrosio
Iván Furlan Cano
Iván Furlan Cano works as a freelance photo and video journalist and focuses on social movements, climate justice and humanitarian crises in his work.
He is currently studying photojournalism and documentary photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover.
In 2021, the Multimedia was awarded with the Deutscher Multimedia Preis, and in 2022 it won the Grimme Online Award.
Hassan leaves Turkey and arrives in Greece on September 9, 2020. He stays there for 15 days. When it rains, he tries to seek temporary shelter.
Ich bin die meiste Zeit gelaufen, manchmal in den Wäldern, manchmal trocken in den Ebenen und in der Wüste, oft hungrig und durstig.
Ich hoffe auf ein gutes Leben und darauf, meiner Familie helfen zu können.
Ich lebe immer noch in einem alten, heruntergekommenen Gebäude ohne Strom, Wasser oder sonstige Annehmlichkeiten.
Nur manchmal hilft mir eine Organisation mit einigen Tassen, Teekannen, Löffeln usw., die mir helfen.
Dankeschön finanzielle Unterstützung
Dankeschön finanzielle Unterstützung
Thank you for financially supporting our work!
This will allow us to cover some of the costs, give something back to colleagues for their help, and continue to try to make free and independent projects available to people for free.