Residents of the northwestern town of Bihac are on Monday staging a protest against the Government’s handling of the drastic influx of migrants in their town.
The migrants keep coming into the town via buses. With local accommodation capacities filled to the brim, many camp out on the open. Bihac’s residents suspect the money intended for help for the migrants will not even go to them, and that it will be abused.
Thousands of migrants have entered Bosnia on their way toward EU countries since the year began. The country became a significant transit point for them after numerous surrounding countries closed their borders, with Bosnia now being described as a "migrant hotspot" among local officials.
The next stop after Bosnia for the migrants is mostly the country’s western neighbour, Croatia. Croatian border police, however, often turn them back into Bosnia.
The northwestern towns of Bihac, Cazin and Velika Kladusa are located near Croatia’s border and are strongly affected by the situation.
According Bihac resident Amela Besic, the migrant situation in town is a result of an intent to destroy the town.
"Of course I will join the protests, because it is not a political gathering. It is a group of citizens that got organised with the goal to draw attention to what is happening. Most people are not aware of how serious the situation is," Besic told N1.
She also commented on the job Security Minister Dragan Mektic is doing.
"Our 'Minister of insecurity' told us the other day that there are not four thousand migrants here. The truth is that there are not four thousand, but five thousand migrants. They leave while new ones come in," she said.
Besic said that she understands that people coming from war zones are being helped, but stressed that there is an intent to "destroy Bihac to the ground."
"The tourist season totally fell through," she said.
She also said she visited a local building where the migrants have been accommodated and criticised the living conditions there, saying that "not even animals would stay there."
Local Husein Dervisevic said he does not know if he will join the protest, that he does not have problems with migrants in general, but they do not fit into the local culture well.
"I wrote several books about this town," Dervisevic said, introducing himself as a writer and poet. "I cannot visit my park anymore. I cannot go to my beach on the Una river. It is occupied," he said.
"These people don’t fit in here culturally. I don’t care for them and we don’t need them here," he said.
According to local Sasa Vasivljevic, the situation is becoming more and more complex. He will join the protest.
"There are more and more of them coming in. Their living conditions are sub-par," he said.
He pointed out that there is a foul stench at the places where the migrants are being accommodated and that the migrants are complaining over lack of food, water and clothing.
"The Red Cross is helping them as much as it can. It will be endurable while the summer is lasting. But what will happen when autumn and winter come - rain, snow, low temperatures? It will be a problem for them and us," he said.
"I have nothing against them," Vasivljevic said, adding that they came to Bihac because out of necessity. "They had to save their own lives," he added.
Some of the migrants are worried about the protests, but they only have good things to say about the locals.
Abid is from Pakistan and he said he has been in Bihac for 15 days and that citizens and the police are helping him and other migrants.
"The conditions are very bad. It is hard to cross the Croatian border. But they take care of us in Bihac. We have been provided with shelter," Abid said. "We have no problems with the local population and police. They help us."
"However, we want to go on, out of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are waiting for the border to open," he stressed, adding that he would like to go to Italy or Germany.
"Everyone wants to get out of here," he said.
Another migrant, Osman, complained about the hard living conditions.
"There are a lot of people in the centre, it is unbearable," he said, pointing out a lack of food as the main problem. "The Red Cross and the UN only give us one meal a day."
But Osman said he is satisfied with how Bihac’s residents behave towards him and others.
"They are very good to us. Police help us. All the people help us," he pointed out, but added that the protest will be bad for refugees and migrants.
He did, however, say that if the protest entails people expressing their dissatisfaction over the ineffective reaction of the authorities to the number of migrants and refugees, that is a good thing.
The protest is to begin at 12:00 am.