Bosnia and Herzegovina: Population Movement Emergency Appeal n° MDRBA011, Operations Update n° 3

Summary of the appeal

This Operations Update no. 3 is to report on the implementation progress of activities from 1 July to 30 September 2019 as well as changing needs on the ground. Operation Update no. 1 reported on the implementation progress of activities covering 8 December 2018 to 10 March 2019 and Operation Update no. 2 covered progress activities from 11 March to 30 June.
This Operations Update provides an up-to-date description of the migration situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an overview of the RCSBiH and other actors on the ground as well as on the current response to the migrants’ needs. It also gives details on the action, which focuses on the following areas of focus and strategies of implementation: Shelter (Household items); Livelihoods and Basic Needs; Health; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI); Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as well as Building the Capacities of the National Society.
The response reflects the current situation and information of the evolving operation and will be adjusted based on further developments and more detailed assessments in the following period.
Emergency Appeal was published in 8 December 2018 to reflect the situation as seen at that period, focusing on providing assistance to the migrants accommodated in the centres and migrants on move, as well as the host communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to deliver assistance and support to up to 7,600 migrants while supporting and strengthening the efforts of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Red Cross Society (RCSBiH).

A. SITUATION ANALYSIS

Description of the disaster

Countries throughout the Balkans experienced a significant influx of migrants in 2015 and 2017. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), however, not being situated on the main migratory route, it was only marginally affected at that time. Since the beginning of 2018, however, the country has seen a significant increase in the numbers of arrivals, with migrants arriving via two main routes: through Albania and Montenegro, and through the Republic of North Macedonia or Bulgaria, and Serbia. Entry points to BiH were in the areas of Trebinje, Foča and Višegrad in the Republic of Srpska (RS) and Goražde in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). The majority of people arriving were heading through Tuzla and Sarajevo to Una-Sana Canton and seeking to enter the European Union through Croatia.
Since 1 January until 29 September 2019, 21,971 registered migrants entered Bosnia and Herzegovina according to IOM’s Migration Flow data.
As mentioned in the previous report, authorities in Una-Sana Canton have relocated migrants and refugees residing in open spaces and private accommodation in Bihac to a new location identified by the Bihac City Council as “Vučjak.” The UN expressed serious concern with regard to this decision and called upon the authorities to immediately cease this relocation until a more suitable place is available. Until the time of this report, new location options have been identified but have not been agreed among the stakeholders yet. Within the area of the Vučjak there are unexploded landmines from the 90’s war. ‘Vučjak’ is located on the site of an old landfill, and as such, poses health hazards and a risk of methane explosions. There is also significant lack of sanitary facilities.
According to Una-Sana Canton Prime Minister, the European Commission has expressed its readiness to provide additional financial and technical assistance to BiH but has also asked to establish internal BiH coordination mechanism. To date, this coordination mechanism has not come to fruition, although winter is on the doorstep and time is running out for the establishment of a new reception centre (or centres) outside the USC, as agreed in Brussels.
For months, the European Commission has been urging to move migrants from the Vučjak site, saying that the conditions in which migrants are currently living are inhumane and the EC expressed a willingness to give assistance, but not at location of Medeno Polje proposed by USC authorities. This site has been dropped because the EC and the UN do not want to support private facilities to be used for accommodating migrants. This decision has not been well received by the Government of Una Sana Canton, knowing that existing IOM/EC run temporary reception centres in Bira, Miral and Sedra are also privately owned, yet when USC government proposed private ownership, it was considered unacceptable. The Bihac Mayor offered the latest location of Lipa, 22 kilometres away from the city, but this location was not accepted by IOM and EC either. Bihac Mayor said that he hopes that the migrants will eventually be accommodated in Medeno Polje because there is no longer time to build any centre, before winter starts.
While discussions are ongoing about the new location for a temporary reception centre, the number of unregistered migrants staying outside of existing IOM run centres, public spaces and abandoned building is on the rise and has reached 3,500 in Una Sana Canton. Tuzla has also seen a large increase of arrivals over the last 3 months with most of the people being in transit and finding shelter in public spaces across town.