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At the border between Bosnia an Croatia. Screenshot from YouTube

Migrant situation in Bosnia ‘at the most critical stage’

An influx of migrants is threatening to overwhelm the already- fragile Balkans.

Published: June 25, 2019, 12:52 pm

    Bihac

    The situation in Bihac, a city of about 61 000 people in the northwestern corner of Bosnia is currently facing what some have described as a humanitarian crisis. The country is one of Europe’s poorest.

    Others have said the number of migrants is increasing rapidly. Although the official number is around 4000 migrants, it’s estimated that the actual number may be as many as many as 50 000.

    According to Migration.iom.int some 7 127 migrants were registered as entering Bosnia in 2019 up to May 15, more than 6 times the total for all of 2017. In 2018, 23 848 were registered, the highest ever in the country.

    The source explained that there was money behind the immigration crisis in the Balkans. The EU has been giving local governments outside the EU money to deal with the situation, but the funds end up in the pockets of a few powerful people at the top and not in the system that should be taking care of immigrants.

    The majority are migrants are men in their 20s, with experience in violence and they are also often drug abusers.

    “These men who have been traveling for months without proper food or resources, men with fighting experience, men with survival experience… you can get a clue as to how capable they are,” the source pointed out.

    The outnumbered Bihac police continue to search of private houses to transfer of migrants from the city to the Vucjak area. In one search, several facilities were harboring close to a hundred migrants and asylum seekers.

    Migrants hiding in private homes usually pay for the accommodation – around 10 euros per day per person Criminal charges will now be brought against such owners for illegal rentals.

    The action, according to the Bihac police, started this month, and will continue in the coming days, and appealed to citizens to stop this practice.

    The plan by authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina to relocate hundreds migrants to a nearby tent city poses “a significant health and safety risk” human rights organisations complained however.

    In recent days have, police from the Interior Ministry of Bosnia’s northwestern Una-Sana Canton have been relocating hundreds of migrants from Bihac to Vucjak, some eight kilometers away, RFE/RL reported.

    Across the Una-Sana Canton, local inhabitants feel that migrants can no longer stay near them. According to a police spokesman, the relocation is focusing on Bihac because the situation in the town is “at the most critical stage.”

    In the city of Velika Kladusa, migrants are also being moved out to Vucjak. “We have to work every day until we somewhat resolve the situation,” the police source said.

    Most migrants in Bosnia are concentrated in Bihac and Velika Kladusa, close to the border with EU-member Croatia,.

    Human Rights Watch called on Bosnian authorities to ensure adequate accommodation, describing the relocation campaign as a “worrisome development” because of the camp’s proximity to a former rubbish dump and minefields.

    “Authorities have a responsibility to house people in adequate and humane conditions at another location,” a HRW researcher said.

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