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Reporter. Writer. Radio and multimedia producer  | Currently in Lisbon, Portugal  | Updating...


Police separate refugee families on the Croatian border

BREGANA, Croatia — When the buses arrived in the Croatian town of Bregana on the border with Slovenia, the police asked for the children and the women first.

The refugees started pushing in the line. Most of them had been waiting for days, stranded in a narrow piece of road blocked with steel barriers on all sides to prevent them from moving to Slovenia, and then continuing their journey to Western Europe.

Faris was trampled by the other refugees and separated from his family and, on Monday, he hadn’t seen his wife and daughter for two days.

“They’re in another camp in Slovenia,” the 31-year-old Iraqi told Mashable. Faris looked weary and moved slowly as if time had stopped. “The police came to me and said: ‘Wait five minutes.'” They never came.

“They do this because they are disorganized,” said Haman, who joined the conversation to express his fury about what happened to his friend.

Some refugees say families are being separated by authorities in Bregana on purpose. Others, like Haman, believe it’s a result of the general chaos that reigns here on the border.

For example, until recently, when children were injured or in need of medical help, the Red Cross would take them to a centre in Brežice, in Slovenia, only allowing the mothers to join their children. The fathers had to stay on the Croatian side.

Now, however, authorities allow fathers to come, too.

But Saad Lhsamri was one of the unlucky ones, forced to stay behind as his family crossed the border. Now, he was screaming to a man in a grey suit and bright red tie, asking to be reunited with them.

“I need only a few inches. Please give me those inches,” he begged in halting English, referring to the distance separating him from the white tent, on the Slovenian side, where the injured children go to wait for the buses taking them to the center.

The man on the receiving end of Lhsamri’s rage was Francesco Rocca, president of the Italian Red Cross. Rocca assured him that the organization knew where his family was and promised they would be reunited soon. But Lhsamri didn’t seem to understand and looked heartbroken. He hadn’t been able to contact his family because his cellphone was stolen.

“I think they’re in Finland by now,” he said with despair.

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