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Migrants heading for the EU. IOM

Bosnian police block migrant caravan to EU

Some 200 migrants have been blocked by Bosnian police from reaching the border with neighbouring Croatia. The stand-off echoes the currant efforts by a Central American caravan to reach the US border.

Published: October 23, 2018, 9:03 am

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    Bosnian police on Monday evening stopped the caravan before they reached the border crossing in the village of Izacic, in northwestern Bosnia, persuading the migrants to return to the migrant centre they left.

    The Charlotte Observer reported that several dozen migrants, including women and children, had walked for several hours from a shelter in Bosnia in protest that the border remains closed for people trying to reach the EU.

    They eventually turned back after spending a few hours near the Maljevac border crossing, but they were not the only group heading for the EU. Also on Monday, another group of 89 migrants left their camp in the Bosnian town of Cazin, heading for yet another border crossing. The group, which included children, walked some 15 kilometers to reach the border.

    Thousands of migrants have remained trapped in northwestern Bosnia while trying to reach the EU. Last weekend saw protests in Bihac over the rising number of migrants squatting in the town.

    Migrants from countries where there are no conflicts, have been massing Bosnia to avoid the more heavily guarded routes in the Balkans.

    Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu Agency meanwhile says coast guards rescued 20 migrants after a boat carrying migrants sank off Turkey’s Aegean Sea coast. Two of the migrants later died in hospital.

    The boat sank early Monday near Bodrum, close to the Greek island of Kos. Anadolu said residents in the resort Gumbet, close to Bodrum, had alerted rescue crews after they heard cries for help.

    Brussels is meanwhile planning to open processing centres in “safe third countries”, according to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tangiers, a port town in the north of Morocco.

    Santiago Agrelo Martinez in an interview with EU Observer, denounced such migrant processing centres as “concentration camps for people who have no rights”. He added: “We treat them like slaves. If we want them, we take them from their homes and countries to work on our agricultural land, but if we don’t need them, even though they’re hungry, we enclose them in camps.”

    But such plans for centres drawn up by EU leaders in June when Italy called for more controls on migration, is in the process of being shelved. The EU now pursues “strengthened coordination disembarkation and search and rescue at sea – not camps”.

    An European Commission official confirmed this to British daily The Express: “This is very much the message passed from the EU side.”

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