Authorities Say Water, Utilities Restored At Migrant Camp in Northwest Bosnia

Report
from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Published on 22 Oct 2019 View Original

By RFE/RL's Balkan Service

Authorities in northwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina say water and some services are again reaching an overcrowded migrant camp that has been criticized as unsanitary and unsafe.

Officials of the Una Sana Canton said on October 22 that an agreement was struck for local utilities to supply water to the Vucjak migrant camp near the city of Bihac, ending a two-day shutdown.

"We have direct agreements with some public companies so that migrants and refugees in Vucjak won't be deprived of services, and so the health situation there, which is already bad, does not worsen," Dzevad Livakovic, head of the Civil Protection Directorate of Una Sana Canton, told RFE/RL.

Bosnia has been struggling with a rise in migrant arrivals since nearby European Union member states Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia sealed their borders against undocumented immigration.

More than 40,000 migrants -- nearly 20 percent of whom are children -- have entered the Balkan country since 2018. Around 7,300 have settled in the northwest Bihac area hoping to cross into nearby Croatia and go on to the affluent north and west of the EU.

The AP news agency reported that police pulled dozens of migrants off a train on October 22 to keep them from reaching Bihac.

The size of the camp has overwhelmed local authorities.

Suhret Fazlic, the mayor of Bihac, has warned that his city can no longer cope with the number of people staying in the migrant camp. His administration cut off funds to the site to help draw attention to the crisis.

The Council of Europe commissioner for human rights urged Bosnia on October 17 to relocate the camp, which is built on a landfill and situated close to a land-mined area, because of its "deplorable" conditions.

A video broadcast on October 16 by local media showed police taking migrants on foot in a long column toward the Vucjak camp near the city of Bihac, about 10 kilometers from the Croatian border.

Police escort migrants to the Vucjak camp near Bihac on October 15. Fazlic has said there are more than 6,000 in Bihac alone, but the city hasn't received any help.

In July, the EU pledged 14 million euros ($15.6 million) in aid for new shelters but the scheme has been held up by bickering among rival ethnic groups and anti-migrant rhetoric.

RFE/RL's Balkan Service
RFE/RL's Balkan Service promotes the values of democracy, human rights, and freedom of expression in a region where genuine media freedom remains elusive and where many media outlets remain divided along ethnic lines.
webteam@rferl.org

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty:
© RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.