IZACIC, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Several dozen migrants sought to be allowed to cross from Bosnia into Croatia Tuesday after spending the night in the open near the border between the two countries.
The group wanted to enter Croatia, a European Union member, and continue west on to other EU countries. Bosnian police blocked the migrants from reaching the border and buses arrived later to take them back to an asylum center.
Earlier, children could be heard shouting “Croatia, Croatia.”
“Our situation is very bad, so we came here because of our situation and maybe they have to understand what we are going through,” Ezent Laue, who said he was from Syria, pleaded.
Croatian police said in a statement they would not allow illegal entry to the country. They warned of false rumors being spread that Croatia’s borders would be opened to allow people to enter freely.
The migrants walked some 15 kilometers (9 miles) Monday from the asylum center to draw attention to borders remaining closed to people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa or Asia.
Bosnian police first stopped the group Monday evening about one kilometer (about a half-mile) from the border crossing. The migrants set up small tents, put out blankets and slept rough by the road as cars and trucks passed by.
Parents wrapped children in warm clothes and blankets to protect them from the autumn chill. Sympathetic locals offered food, beverages and blankets.
Another group of migrants set off Tuesday morning toward a separate border crossing with Croatia.
Several thousand migrants are staying in war-ravaged Bosnia unable to continue their westward journey. Migrants have turned to Bosnia to avoid more heavily guarded routes in the Balkans.
Hundreds of thousands passed through the region before countries stepped up border controls in 2016.