The Usivak refugee camp outside Sarajevo.
It's a place where a lot of stories intertwine with one another.
It’s here that a lot of migrants stop on their way to Europe.
You can meet a lot of people from a lot of parts of the world here.
Most of them got stuck in Bosnia and decided to spend the winter in the camp.
Most of them, when the weather gets better,
will continue on their way towards the border of the European Union...
and will begin The Game.
There are a lot of paths leading into Western Europe.
One of the easiest is the Balkan route.
In the past the migrants crossed into the EU through Hungary.
However, the Hungarian government has changed its law and tightened its borders,
to keep the migrants from entering the country and trigger asylum procedures.
The flow of migrants has since then moved towards a different country - Croatia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the last stop on their way to the European Union.
These men are angry with the conditions in the camp.
Just last night they have been relocated from a location next to the border,
deep into the territory of the country,
from a completely different place, a temporary camp called Vucjak.
They called it the “jungle camp”.
The conditions there were deemed unlivable, so the camp was closed down.
But there are many more migrants than the capacity of the camps
and not everyone can count on getting enough meals, or even their own bed.
It’s difficult to describe the Balkan-route migrants with just one word.
They come from many different countries,
from many parts of the world.
Each of them has a story to tell, their own reasons for being here.
For most of them there are no options
of getting into the European Union legally via a legal process,
without actually being inside the EU.
They are mostly men.
And there are a couple of reasons for that.
Young men are the target for local terrorist militias in countries such as Afghanistan.
It’s young men who in patriarchal and conservative societies
are responsible for the well-being of the whole family
and if there are many brothers in a family,
one of them will surely make an attempt to get to a place where he will earn enough to support his family.
There are also people whose expectations of living in Europe
are based solely on what they see online or hear from friends
and they are ready to risk their lives to get here.
Some of them travel alone,
others use their connections and friends who made it before them
and some of them pay smugglers.
The camp is not a goal that anybody is interested in.
The goal lays beyond the border with Croatia,
which turned out to be the most difficult part of the trip.
They call it “The Game”.
People without shoes, or with injuries and bruises on their bodies
are a common sight in the camp.
They find refuge here, medical assistance,
they get new clothes
and when they rest and the weather gets better they will try to cross the border once again.
And they will try until they succeed.
But not everybody gets a place in the camp.
And not everybody wants to wait until spring.
They are outside the system, because the asylum seeking system,
as a concept inside the European Union, the Dublin Convention,
is not ready to face a situation that we have observed since 2014 and 2015,
when a million people have reached Europe through the Balkan route and the Mediterreanan route.
The Dublin Convention states that if a person is fleeing war,
or their life is otherwise in direct danger,
and flees their country because of that,
that person is entitled to seek asylum in the first country of the European Union they reach.
For most of them that used to be Greece, or Bulgaria.
The migrants don’t want to stay in those countries,
as the economical situation there is not what the migrants have expected.
On the other hand, Greece was never ready for so many people.
Just imagine if a million people, or even half a million, seeked asylum and wanted to stay there.
Greece wasn’t prepared to handle all of them.
And this is a huge problem,
as our legislative system is not fit to effectively answer
the challenges of the situation at hand.
And the situation has been created in such a way
that the people who embark on this journey have been completely stripped down of their rights.
And they have done this to themselves, in fact, because they throw away their documents.
On the other hand, they put the EU and other countries along their way
in a sort of stalemate,
because as they don’t have any documents on them,
the border police, or any other legal entity,
cannot identify them
and in turn implement the legal processes that you would normally use for this kind of scenario.
Why do they throw away those documents?
Because they know, I’m not sure how they know, but they do,
that without any documents
the members of law enforcement cannot identify them
and send them back to their countries of origin.
And this is what the migrants want.
In Sarajevo you can meet migrants on the train station, for example.
From here they take an afternoon train to a small town called Bihac,
located close to the Croatian border.
Most means of transport are inaccessible for them,
but you don’t need documents to buy a train ticket.
Their seats are in separate compartments,
as according to the railways is more comfortable for other passengers.
The men travelling In this compartment are friends
who started this journey together back in Afghanistan.
All of them are below the age of 20.
They don’t know a lot of English
and most of them are afraid to show their face to the camera.
In this compartment the atmosphere is a bit more tense.
These men from Morocco and Algeria
have met each other a few days earlier and they are not going to the camp,
they are preparing for the game.
After hours on the train,
on the last station before Bihac,
the migrants are escorted out of the train by the police.
They explain that the Una-Sana canton, where Bihac is located,
is overcrowded with migrants and the local camps cannot hold any more.
And even if those camps are not the target for anybody in the group,
the police have their own orders
and they will take the migrants with a bus back to a camp close to Sarajevo.
When we look at a map
we can see that the north-western,
mountainous part of Bosnia goes deep into Croatia.
Upon crossing the border here one is provided with the shortest,
fastest route to Slovenia.
In turn, most migrants decide to reach right here,
next to Bihac, to be as close to the border, as possible.
The Bosnian border police have been stopping up to a hundred attempts of
illegal crossing the border every day for the past few years.
They stop people with fake IDs,
hidden in the trunks of cars, or secret compartments of delivery trucks.
Sometimes, the migrants try to sneak into the customs parking lot
to hide themselves in the under-carriage of trucks, just above the wheels.
Those who don’t have money to pay the smugglers
make their way on foot across the mountains.
Bihac is a small city with a population of 60 thousand.
The presence of 6000-8000 migrants is not something that can go unnoticed.
It’s here that a lot of paths cross, not just for those who are about to cross the border,
but also those who got detained in Croatia.
According to EU law nobody can be transported outside an EU country without certain procedures in place,
regardless of the country of origin.
But the fact that this is a common occurrence is known to everyone.
The non-regulated activities of the Croatian police sometimes lead to situations like this one…
Two Nigerian students have come to Zagreb to participate in a ping-pong tournament.
During a stroll along the city they were stopped by the police
and since they didn’t have their travel documents with them
the police didn’t believe that they were legally in the country.
The police have driven them to Bosnia and left them at one of the refugee camps.
Some start the game here,
others are escorted here after having lost the game.
In Bihac a few thousand people are left without a roof over their heads,
they cannot go back and they are motivated to keep trying.
At this time there is no viable strategy to solve this situation.
Camps are being created to provide temporary support.
In the Borici camp only minors and families with children can be admitted.
The site is overcrowded, just like all the other sites in the vicinity.
This means that thousands of people have to look for shelter on their own.
Baktash is 24 years old.
He comes from Afghanistan where he used to work for a company providing internet services.
He was harassed and threatened by Taliban militias,
so he and his family fled to Europe.
His mother managed to get asylum in Greece
and she then moved to Germany.
Baktash didn’t get asylum and wants to get to his family on his own.
As of today, especially after my recent trips,
I’ve only confirmed my opinion that this crisis can be, in fact, solved.
This is no apocalypse, as a lot of people tend to call it,
this is not the end of the world, or the end of Europe.
In the Balkans today we have a lot of problems
and the pictures, movies and the news we hear,
the violence that is taking place happens for one, main reason.
And the reason is so simple that it’s hard to believe.
We’ve managed to completely shut down our most basic human reactions,
this also includes empathy,
which would be the gist, the solution to a lot of the problems
we are seeing today on the Balkan route.
Looking at it from a global perspective, it’s a fact
that Europe is in need of people.
We have a shortage of human resources, of people to work, basically.
A need for workers in the exact age frame as the people who arrive here.
We are always looking for electricians,
car mechanics and other types of jobs that require somebody on location,
somebody who can fix something.
In Brussels alone
finding a plumber is an impossible task,
everybody’s frustrated because of that.
If we already have a group of people who want to change their lives.
Because this is what’s important and amazing, their potential.
If somebody sets out on a journey this dangerous and doesn't know what's going to happen to them,
it means that they possess a great need to change their lives for the better.
Not just change their lives, but change them for the better.
And with just a little bit of a wider perspective,
analyzing the facts and understanding the facts,
understanding what we’re facing, what’s happening
and not just what we would like to happen, because what we’d want is impossible to get.
But after analyzing the facts and seeing the potential that these people bring
and what can be done thanks to them, a plan should be made.
A plan that for example let’s them work legally in jobs that need the workforce.
These people also set out with certain amounts of money on them,
which they later spend on surviving,
they pay the smugglers and criminals along the way,
and we’re not talking about small amounts of money.
With a little bit of data analysis
and trying to understand how to turn this situation from a negative one
into a positive one,
and believe me: what’s happening right now is really ugly at the end of the day.
These people, with the money they have when they start the journey
could easily settle and start a life in Europe,
assimilate and synchronize with the societies,
they could also fill the demands in the job-market that Europe is struggling with right now
and perhaps even start businesses of their own with just the money they are bringing with them.
And now we have something completely opposite to that,
when they do get to Europe, and they will,
they will be greatly traumatized after what happened to them along the way,
after years of living on the road, sleeping
and living in conditions that are simply unacceptable for human beings.
They will lose a number of years during such trips,
they will learn nothing along the way, nothing useful when it comes to getting a job at least
and they will lose all their money.
They will get here miserable and poor
and will constitute a much bigger problem than they actually are.
And I think this is madness
that until now migration specialists and people specialising in the job-market
have not sat together and started talking about how to turn this situation into a positive one,
especially since all of this is happening already.
Because if we weren’t able to stop all of this from happening for the last five years
we won’t be able to stop it now.
Currently there are 70 million forcibly displaced people in the world.
25 million among them have the status of a refugee.
80% of refugees are located in countries neighbouring their country of origin.
3.9 million migrants are stateless.
UN-conducted research states that until the year 2050 approximately 143 million people
will need to leave their homes because of climate change alone.
Thank you to Marek Kowalczyk for sharing his video footage with us.
Thank you to Minority Rights Group for trusting us and providing us with all the support and help we needed to make this movie.
Thank you to all of you for supporting us throughout the process of making this movie.
Thank you to the migrants for opening to us, for sharing their stories and emotions with us.