Balkan route(s) – The mostly used term ‘balkan route’ is a bit misleading, since there is actually not one route that people coming towards the EU take, but a multitude of routes that keep shifting. People react to current border policies and practices. Even where people want to go depends, among other things, on the actual situations in the transit and destination countries.

Bihać – Town in Una Sana Canton (USK) in Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH). It is the last bigger town before you reach the Croatian border in the north/west of BiH and thus for many people a place where they prepare for the onward journey and crossing of the border.




Evictions/clearances – Especially in the summer months, jungle camps, squats and other places where people on the move are accommodated are evicted, often by force. That usually happens unannounced, surprising people in the early hours of the morning. Most of their private property is destroyed by the police. Then they are taken to the usually overcrowded camp Lipa, often without sleeping bags and clothes. From there they have to walk back to Bihać for several hours.

European border regime/ migration and border management – European migration policy is mainly about the goal of maximum control over migration movements. Hotspots and registration centers outside of the EU as well as modern technology and equipment are supposed to make so-called illegal border crossings impossible. The term “migration management” has become central to the idea of the detention and mass processing of refugees in isolated centers at the borders of the EU, not giving them the possibility of receiving solidary and independent support. Fortress Europe is becoming more and more closed off. The closed and guarded borders lead to longer and riskier routes for refugees. And thus to more deaths for which Europe is responsible.

Externalization (of the European border regime) – The EU is built on the basic principle of open borders for European citizens, capital and goods within the Schengen area, while harshly restricting the movement of non-EU citizens at the external borders or in transit and origin countries. In order to achieve that, the European border regime operates far beyond the formal external borders of the EU, extending into countries of the African continent, Western Asia and the Western Balkans. The externalization of the European border regime means, that border management and its control and surveillance functions are unhitched from the EU’s geographic and territorial national borders and shifted to nearby countries identified as important countries of origin or transit. In return, the governments of these so-called third countries receive incentives such as visa exemptions, financial support and investments of the EU countries, f.e. in infrastructure projects, or the acceleration of EU accession negotiations


Frontex – European Border and Coast Guard Agency. The agency’s mandate: Frontex is responsible for the executive and judicial part of deportations as well as technical and operational support for member states and other contractors. This mandate was significantly expanded at the end of last year, giving the border management agency legal, administrative and financial autonomy. Since the agency was founded, there have been repeated allegations of severe human rights violations either by Frontex itself or observed by them without intervention.


Game – When people talk about “game”, they basically mean trying to unofficially cross the border. In Bihać, this refers to the border between Bosnia (as a non-EU country) and Croatia (as an EU country). Few people succeed in the game the first time they try to reach their destination. Most are pushed back again and again and experience different forms of violence. Many here in Bihać try for many months or years to make it across the border, sometimes several times a month. People on the move usually spend hundreds and thousands of euros on the game, since they have to organise the necessary material, pay a smuggler or buy a ticket every time they try.



IOM – International Organization for Migration – IOM is an organization of the United Nations whose task can be described as migration and border management. Especially in the anti-racist movements and critical migration research, IOM’s work is seen as highly problematic. The focus of the organization lies on managing and controlling People on the move. The desire for control and migration defense of the states, mostly those located in the global north, is prioritised over the needs, human rights and vulnerability of refugees. (for further information see: Georgi, Fabian “Managing Migration? A Critical History of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)”, 2019: Berzt + Fischer, Berlin).


Jungles – Fields and forests where people sleep for some time, mostly in tents or under tarpaulins, but also in the open air sometimes.



Lipa camp – is located near the place Lipa (which is uninhabited except for one person) 27 kilometers from Bihać and is the closest official camp. Until the fire in December 2020, the camp was operated as a temporary reception center by IOM. Earlier this year, the Bosnian government announced the reestablishment and expandion of Camp Lipa as a permanent reception center. Since then, the camp has been managed by the SFA. The EU provides the necessary money and so-called technical assistance for migration management.





Push-Backs – Illegal deportation from one country to another, usually by the respective border police. Every person has the right to request protection from the relevant authority after crossing a border, or to express this after crossing a border at any unofficial point when apprehended by the police or border police. The person should, in theory, be allowed to remain in the country until a decision is made on this request (Geneva Convention). In case of a push-back, this request for asylum is ignored and the person is forced back across the border by the border police (this can be done by physical and/or psychological force, by threatening to use this kind of violence if the person does not go back across the border, or by handing people over from one authority to another).



Readmission Agreement – Agreements concluded between two states in order to make it easier to (repatriate) and deport people. The negotiating states agree to readmit people who enter the other state’s territory illegally, if the person’s citizenship can be identified. The partners agree to cooperate in clarifying the person’s identity. In BiH, a readmission agreement has recently been concluded with Pakistan. It is still unclear how this will be implemented in practice, but in general these agreements usually are a first step towards deporting people to their country of origin, usually against the will of the person concerned. Deportations often come with detention, physical and psychological violence, not to mention that a deportation is an act of violence in itself, and people are deported to areas that are at least unsafe, sometimes even war zones (f.e. Germany is still deporting people to Afghanistan despite the catastrophic situation the and even though there is evidence that deported people have died there due to attacks).


Schengen Area – The Schengen (1990), Dublin (1997), and Common European Asylum System (CEAS 2003) agreements were attempts to impose uniform instruments for transnational management and harmonization of migration policies within the Schengen Area and European borders. Schengen is the basis for free movement within the EU – if a person is in possession of the right passport. Croatia is part of the EU but not yet in the European Schengen area. One of the most important conditions for its admission to the Schengen area is proving itself as the gatekeeper of the EU’s external borders. For this, the country has received over 160 million euros since 2015. This is another mean of enforcing the restrictive border regime of the EU

SfA – The Service for Foreigners’ Affairs – The agency is subordinate to the Ministry of Security and is responsible for people in BiH without Bosnian citizenship. The SfA has been managing Camp Lipa since IOM officially withdrew. IOM is still active in an advisory and operational questions regarding the construction and management of the camp, but also in counting people in official and unofficial places/camps in BiH. For more information, we reommend IOM’s weekly report on the situation in BiH:, although the information is to be taken with a grain of salt and should be checked against critical sources (e.g. Boder Violence Monitoring Network).

Squats – uninhabited buildings (often ruins) that are used by people as shelter and for housing.