Information about the increasing number of migrants in the area along the state border on the Sava River is confirmed by official figures. In the area of the Gradiška Police Department, their number has doubled this year compared to last year. In the last month, three confirmed and one unconfirmed case of capsizing of boats and rescues on the Sava River were recorded.
About 15 meters from the Sava River, at the location of Orahova, the BHRT team found the remains of things used by migrants to cross the Sava. There was a box that contained a plastic inflatable boat and an air bag to help them stay above water if they tipped over from the boat. Our team also found two oars, and a backpack left nearby with family photos of people who tried to find salvation by crossing the Sava River.
On the opposite coast, the Croatian police are removing abandoned rubber boats. According to residents and the local police, there are more places like this on the Sava.
More and more often we read the news about capsizing boats and rescuing drowning people. One of the cases of alleged rescue of migrants in Orahova has not been confirmed.
“The Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been informed about this specific case and we are taking measures and actions under the supervision of the Prosecutor’s Office to possibly uncover the criminal offense of human smuggling, so as far as that situation is concerned, it has not yet been clarified,” says Bojan Škorić, head of the Gradiška Police Department.
This year, the police in Gradiška recorded about 1,700 migrants on the move. Twice as much as compared to last year. They move in larger groups at night. They can be seen singly or in pairs during the day.
The BHRT team found two young Afghan men between Gradiška and Dubica. They say they are going to Europe. According to them, in BiH and Montenegro they had no problems, while in Albania and Greece they took their phones and money.
The local population says they have no major problems with migrants. In the police, we learn that reports about the movement of migrants are mostly due to fear.
“The only thing is that they take those boats that they find on the coast and the local population organizes to secure those boats, protect them at night,” says Bojan Trgić, a journalist of “Mikromreža” from Gradiška.
“Now it’s convenient for them, the water level of the Sava River is low. Now it’s most convenient for them to cross, the water resistance is not strong,” says fish keeper Asim Duraković.
In addition to the conditions for crossing the river, migrants also benefit from the more measured behavior of the police in Croatia. After reports of abuse of powers and increased EU surveillance of their activities. In the border zone along the Sava, the number of people smuggling cases registered by the BiH Border Police is increasing.
“Since the beginning of this year, members of the BiH Border Police have deterred more than 4,800 people from attempting to illegally cross the state border, and that is the most deterred in the last two months,” Franka Vican Bošković, spokesperson for the BiH Border Police, points out.
More than 228,000 people illegally crossed the external borders of the EU in nine months of this year, which is 70% more than in the same period last year, according to data from Frontex. The Balkan and Central-Mediterranean routes are marked as the most active.