At the weekend, a Kurdish man in his fifties from the region of Erbil died in a hospital in Bosnia. He leaves behind a wife and four children who hope to seek asylum in Europe. His death comes a month after a fight at a migrant camp, during which he was “critically injured.” Was his death a tragic accident or the result of something more sinister?
“It was a tragic weekend at migrant center Usivak in Sarajevo Bosnia Herzegovina,” writes the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Chief of Mission in Bosnia, Peter Van Der Auweraert on his Facebook page and Twitter. “One of the migrants staying there, who was critically injured during a fight between two national groups passed away in the University Hospital in Sarajevo.”, Info Migrants reports.
Van Der Auweraert spoke to InfoMigrants on the phone from Bosnia. Neither he nor his staff were present during the fight because the staff there had been deployed to another part of the center when it broke out. Van Der Auweraert underlines, that means there is no “official version” of what happened. At the IOM’s request, an investigation, conducted by the Bosnian police and magistrates is now underway.
Van Der Auweraert adds that there are “several versions” circulating about this man’s death. “One is that he was beaten up by a security guard with a private security company, another is that he was beaten by migrants from the other [Pakistani] side, and another version is that he made a very unfortunate fall.”
The man, his wife and four children had made it from Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan to Bosnia, “about ten months ago,” according to some of the people posting allegations about his death. The family hoped to continue their journey to seek asylum within the EU, where they have relatives already. But like many others on the so-called Balkan route, they ended up being hosted in a camp, Usivak, in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
Fights and tension
Fights and tension at the Usivak camp and other centers in Bosnia occur “from time to time,” says Van Der Auweraert. Although considering the number of people at the center, he points out, not that often. Currently, Usivak is hosting 870 people from 22 different nationalities; about 368 are from Pakistan and Afghanistan and there are 89 people from Iraq. It is not specified if they are all Kurds but Van Der Auweraert says Kurds make up a significant minority in the camp. Young single men make up the majority in Usivak (805 in total) but there are some families like that of the man who died. There are 99 unaccompanied children present at the moment.
Tensions between the two communities continue to “simmer” says Van Der Auweraert. However, “since the incident, things have been relatively calm.” The IOM has a system of “community representatives and wardens; that is migrants who volunteer to participate in the camp management, and they play an important role in trying to maintain the peace and flag issues that are arising. I think they have done a great job,” says Van Der Auweraert. In his opinion, they have helped prevent, or calm, any incidents that may be occurring.