On the 15th of July 2020 around midday, police in full riot gear surrounded the informal refugee camp in the vicinity of Velika Kladuša and bulldozed the belongings of people on the move. Their shelter, blankets, sleeping bags and the rest of their belonging were crammed into a large pile and set on fire. The people on the move seemed undisturbed by the commotion and brutality of state action, proud of the items they managed to hide and keep – or scavenge and patch-up. Among them was a deck of playing cards a group of Pakistanis pulled from underneath a burning pile of tents and improvised shelter.


Clubs and Diamonds and Spades and Hearts… Queen’s and King’s and Ace’s. But we’re all Jokers here, Mohammad claimed, laughing at the scavenged belonging.


It rained heavily in the afternoon. A group of Moroccans who resided on the southern edge of the camp left for Sarajevo. Almost everyone else stayed.


We walked here from Kashmir. Jungle, jungle, mountain, river. I haven’t seen my family in 5 years… This guy, three years and a half. This guy 10 months. That guy just arrived.


He’s 17.


Police left the following day.


The possessions of people on the move, soaked from the night under the rain, were laid out on the river bank. In an almost automated motion, new shelters started to emerge from branches and plastic sheets, stacked with backpacks and crammed with dozens of people. New-old camp started to materialise. It soon looked as if nothing had happened the previous day.




The game of migrants might be different of that of Écarté or Euchre. Their game involves walking through thick and thin, mountains, rivers, forests, through cities hostile to their presence, areas surrounded by the brutality of landscape and manmade barriers. Their path consists of marching past rotten bodies of their colleagues, flooded on the river banks. A reminder of how the game sometimes ends.


J’ai déjà essayé à travers la mer.

La chance n’etait pas ma part.


I go, I back. I go, I back.

Keine Chance.


The group of Kashmiris made it to Italy.

I haven’t heard back from the Moroccans.

This is just part of the game.


We’re all Jokers here anyway…