During February, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) authorities recorded the irregular arrival of 773 migrants and asylum-seekers to the country, out of which 13 were unaccompanied and separated children (UASC). The majority of them declared to be from Afghanistan (41%) and Pakistan (32%), while the 89 per cent (689 persons) ex-pressed an intention to seek asylum. 70,856 arri-vals have been recorded since the start of the mixed movement in January 2018.
Presence in BiH at the end of the month
5,243 asylum-seekers and migrants were accom-modated in reception facilities at the end of Feb-ruary, of which 75 per cent are single adult males, 17 per cent are families with children and eight per cent are UASC. 2,500-2,700 persons are estimated to be squatting outside of formal accommodation, mainly in Una-Sana Canton (U
In February, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, YIva Johansson, visited BiH, and together with the EU Ambassador to BiH, Johann Sattler, the Minister of Security, Se|mo Cikoti~ the Director of Service for Foreigners' Affairs (SFA), Slobodan Ujic and IOM Chief of Mission,
Laura Lungarotti, visited the Provisional Camp (PC) Lipa. They also visited the former Emergen-cy Tent Camp Lipa and assessed current devel-opments in the context of migration manage-ment. The dialogue focused on migration gov-ernance reforms, responsibility sharing in the country and the continuous support that the European Union (EU) provides for migration management.
The EU Home Affairs Commissioner also met with the delegation of the Ministry of Security of BiH, the leaders of the BiH Border Police and with BiH SFA, in Una-Sana Canton (USC), as well as with members of the BiH Presidency, the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, and his deputies. In her press statement, Johansson mentioned the importance of having improve-ment and capacity building initiatives in regard to the migration management system in BiH.
In February, a first meeting of the Working Group for the development of a new Strategy on Migration and Asylum and Action Plan for the period of 2021-2025 was held, where it was agreed to share the final draft by 31 August 2021 with the BiH Council of Ministers for its final adoption.
The humanitarian partners and the State authorities including the Service of Foreigners' Affairs (SFA) continued to work to-gether to provide improved living conditions to migrants in reception centres throughout the country and provided assis-tance to those in informal accommodation. Despite efforts to increase the current TRCs capacities, additional accommoda-tion options are highly required to guarantee a dignified stay of migrants and asylum seekers. Current overpopulation of TRCs is also aggravating protection and health risks, particular-ly considering the COVID-19 pandemic as the WASH facilities are insufficient and physical distancing is a challenge in itself.
Due to overpopulation many TRCs are also struggling with electric system overload resulting in frequent power outages and consequently impacting on migrants' living conditions in the centres.
In addition, construction works to improve living conditions of migrants and asylum seeker in the PC Lipa continued. IOM, the Red Cross, and other humanitarian actors, under the supervi-sion of the SFA continued to provide basic amenities, such as electricity, heating, and water to all temporary residents of the camp: a dining and food service tents, a prayer tent, and a medical corner, made up of five containers, were set up by IOM together with the help of local contractors.
Concurrently, IOM and humanitarian partners continued to
provide technical support to capacitate the SFA on Camp Co-ordination and Camp Management (CCCM) tasks, especially in the provisiona camp Lipa. IOM conducted trainings for the SFA management staff: on Team Leadership and on the distribu-tion of Non-Food Items, which included monitoring and stor-age management. IOM supported the installation of additional necessary equipment used for the on-going registrations. As of February, the SFA is conducting registration of migrants and asylum seekers present at the PC Lipa with the issuance of the Identification Cards (ID) from Ministry of Security (Mos). In addition, UNHCR donated 24 tablets with translation software to improve communication between the SFA field staff and the registering individuals. They also donated more than 10,000 protective masks and 50 protective plexiglass panels in line with COVID-19 preventive measures.
In February, suspension of registrations in TRC BIa~uj due to overcrowding of the centre, continued, with the exception of vulnerable medical cases that can be accommodated subse-quent to the Danish Refugee Council's (DRC) screening. Fur-thermore, IOM, the Ministry of Security, and the Cantonal
Police, initiated discussions to increase the security level of the centres, where initial assessments were carried out by the Cantonal Police in TRC BIa~uj, especially after the incident that happened at the end of January. This included strengthening of the fence around the compound of TRC BIa~uj and the ex-pansion of the video surveillance system. Discussions also in-cluded a possibility to engage a Liaison Officer, to improve the coordination between the municipality and the camp manage-ment.
Lastly, regarding the national BiH COVID-19 vaccination plan, migrants and asylum seekers were not yet included in it. It is plausible that persons under international protection, which are already part of the health system, will have access once vaccines become widely available, however this was not ex-plicitly confirmed by BiH authorities. As such, all United Na-tions (UN) agencies together with the Resident Coordinator Office (RCO) in the lead, continued advocating to ensure that migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, will be included in a national vaccination plan and that none will be left behind.