Croatia, a member of the European Union unlike Bosnia and Serbia, applies a particularly hostile migration policy: Croatian units patrolling the border shamelessly resort to pushback, the illegal practice of pushing people in exile across the border (into Serbia or Bosnia), and use cruel violence against refugees and migrants. Very difficult to cross, this border acts like a bottleneck: constantly pushed back, robbed and abused, exiles find themselves trapped in Bosnia or Serbia, in a region where civil society and institutions are weak to non-existent. Although reported to European institutions, these practices continue unabated, with terrible human consequences, making this region one of the most difficult stages on the European continent for people in exile.
To reach Western Europe from the Balkans, many refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Serbia have to cross first Croatia and then Slovenia, hiding in the forests to avoid the risk of a pushback. Indeed, chain pushbacks are common: apprehended by Slovenian (and sometimes Italian) forces, they are pushed back into Croatia, from where they will inevitably be pushed back again into Serbia or Bosnia, their place of departure. To avoid this, these people have to undertake a ten-day walk in total autonomy (they leave with food and water).