Mayors and municipal assembly members from several towns in the northwestern Una Sana Canton (USK) are protesting in front of the State Parliament building in Sarajevo against the Government’s handling of the mass influx of migrants, as most of the migrants end up concentrated in their towns near the border.
A sign the municipal representatives are holding up says "4,000 migrants in Krajina. Security Ministry, do something!”
Since the beginning of 2018, the number of migrants passing through Bosnia has drastically increased. The country became a significant transit point for the thousands of migrants after numerous surrounding countries closed their borders.
The migrants aim to reach EU countries through Bosnia and Croatia. Croatian border police, however, often turns them away from the border and back into Bosnia.
The northwestern cities of Bihac, Cazin and Velika Kladusa are located in USK and near Croatia’s border and are strongly affected by the situation.
The mayor of the town of Kljuc, which is also located near this critical area, Nedzad Zukanovic, said that nobody is opposed to having migrants and refugees there, but that the local community simply does not have the capacities to accommodate them. "The state is being tested" in how it is tending to the issue, he said.
"There are no migrants in Kljuc, they just pass through there. Most of them are in Bihac and Velika Kladusa, but that could be any town in Krajina tomorrow. That is why I am protesting," he said.
"I call upon the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to seek solutions and communicate better with each other," he said.
The mayor of Bihac, Suhret Fazlic, said that his community has done all it could in the past eight months to accommodate migrants and refugees, but that it cannot do it alone anymore.
"The crisis has surpassed our capabilities. It is obvious that the Security Ministry does not have the necessary capacities. We are not demanding that the migrants leave, but that they (the state) start caring about them," he said.
"They need to be accommodated. It is not a question of whether an incident will occur, but when and how tragic it will be. This is a plea for institutions to do their job," he said.
Croatian and Italian authorities are sending migrants and refugees back to Bihac and not to Sarajevo, he said, adding that the border police is not doing its job.
The mayors and representatives of the northwestern towns were reportedly invited to a meeting with the Minister for Human Rights and Refugees sometime on Thursday.