They are two young Bosnians, 18 and 20 years old, living with their families in the North of France. They crossed the border with Belgium to buy cigarettes. They were caught by the Belgian police and at the request of the Foreigners Office they were brought to the closed centre of Merksplas in view of their deportation to Bosnia, a country they do not know.
Their parents, brothers, sisters and cousins have been living in the North of France for several years. After the decision by the Foreigners Office to deport them to their ‘country of origin’ followed by lots of negotiations, and after two months of retention, they were expelled from the closed centre, thrown out onto the street in a lost corner between Belgium and the Netherlands. They took different buses to finally get back to their family in the North of France. ‘It was prison without having committed no offence’ they told us.
Two months of imprisonment, two months of hell for a pack of cigarettes on the other side of a border!