During April, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) authorities recorded 1,271 migrants and asylumseekers who arrived irregularly to the country, including 20 unaccompanied and separated children (UASC). This brings the total number of new arrivals to 73,396 since January 2018.
Presence in BiH at the end of the month
4,329 migrants and asylum-seekers were accommodated in reception facilities at the end of April, while between 1,800-2,500 persons were estimated to be squatting outside of formal accommodation, mostly in Una-Sana Canton (USC).
Among those in reception facilities, 71 per cent are single adult males, 22 per cent are families with children and about six per cent are UASC.
On April 5, the United Nations (UN) in BiH issued a press release calling for urgent action to end violent pushbacks and collective expulsions of migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees, including children. The press release was issued in response to an incident that occurred on April 2, during which outreach teams encountered a group of 50 men walking close to the official border crossing with Croatia in the direction of Bihać, visibly exhausted, in need of clothes and shoes, and with wounds on their bodies.
Following the meeting held in the previous reporting period between IOM, the Ministry of Security (MoS) and the Service for Foreign Affairs (SFA) on the construction plans of the new temporary reception centre (TRC) Lipa, the Technisches Hilfswerk (THW) visited the site several times, with the contractor, IOM management and technical staff to conduct the first general assessment of the area where the works will be carried out. In particular, in April, the team jointly identified the food distribution area and initiated preparatory work. After the site was cleared, THW and its local contractor conducted the soil preparation work by leveling, excavating and scraping the level of the top surface, after which the gravel sand was poured and compacted. Furthermore, work was carried out to establish the retaining walls so that all the plateaus on which the new reception areas will be positioned, are at the same level as the surrounding road. Moreover, all Calls for tenders for the new TRC Lipa were successfully closed.
One company will shortly be selected to start the main construction works, and several other companies will carry out additional works such as the construction of walls, etc.
The reporting period was marked by a high-level visit of IOM Chief of Staff (CoS) Eugenio Ambrosi. In USC (20-21 April), Mr.
Ambrosi, together with IOM BiH Chief of Mission, met with Minister of Security, Director of the SFA, Prime Minister of USC, and the Mayor of Bihać. The delegation, together with the HE Ambassador of Austria, visited Lipa and the TRC Borići, where CoS praised the well-coordinated response between relevant actors ensuring that the basic humanitarian needs of migrants were being met. CoS urged access to health care and vaccination for migrants, while IOM CoM called for a more solutions-oriented approach that goes beyond immediate reception. In Sarajevo (22-23 April), IOM representatives met with the Prime Minister of Sarajevo Canton and the Council of Ministers. IOM Representatives also met with the Head of the European Union Delegation (EUD) and representatives of USAID. Finally, during a meeting with the Presidency of BiH, the General Director of IOM, Antonio Vitorino, the UN Resident Coordinator in BiH and the IOM Chief of Mission,
IOM and UN representatives expressed continuous support to the State, with the need to continue fostering cooperation with the authorities. IOM will focus on building capacities, border management, and support to local communities through various social cohesion activities.
On 26 and 29 April, the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees (MHRR), in cooperation with UNHCR in BiH, held the first in a series of round tables dedicated to the integration of refugees and the advancement of rights for persons granted subsidiary protection in BiH. This also kicked off the activities of the Local Integration Coordination Body at the state level to improve available solutions for the integration of refugees and improve the status of persons granted subsidiary protection, with the ultimate goal of adopting a comprehensive action plan for the integration of these persons. Additional roundtables are planned for May and June.
In TRC Miral, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was signed between the SFA and IOM on joint Camp Management at the end of 2020, started to be implemented.
Starting in April, the SFA will be present inside TRC Miral daily.
In line with that, SFA held two separate kick-off meetings, one with IOM and one with all partner organizations working in the centre, for general introduction and presentation of the planned activities. At the meeting between the SFA and IOM, discussions focused on the composition of the new CCCM management team, and the appointment of SFA inspector for the centre.
On 30 April, the second IOM-SFA joint Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) exercise aimed to collect information on the number of migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees present in BiH took place. The exercise was conducted in four Cantons:
Una-Sana Canton, Sarajevo Canton, Tuzla Canton, and Herzegovina-Neretva, including 24 municipalities, for a total of 173 locations. Preliminary results showed a total number of 3,314 migrants identified by IOM staff, including 3,221 outside reception facilities.