The situation in the northwestern Una-Sana Canton (USK), which was most affected by the migrant crisis throughout the past year, is better than it was before, but state authorities need to begin tending to the problem, USK Prime Minister Mustafa Ruznic told N1 on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of migrants have entered Bosnia on their way toward EU countries in 2018. The country became a significant transit point for them after numerous surrounding countries closed their borders, with Bosnia 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 away from the border and back into Bosnia.
The northwestern towns of Bihac, Cazin and Velika Kladusa, which are located in the USK and near Croatia’s border, are most affected by the situation.
"Some eight thousand migrants were on USK territory. All the playgrounds and bathing sites were taken over by the migrants,” Ruznic said, adding that “you can imagine how eight thousand of them look like in a town of 60,000 people.”
The presence of the migrants was detrimental to the security situation and prompted the population to organise.
“We named a police commissioner whom we asked to assess the situation. We believed that any crisis could be managed, even the migrant crisis,” Ruznic said.
“Our main goal was to return the dignity to the citizens of the USK and keep the dignity of the migrants by respecting (international) conventions. We began managing the crisis, we have not solved the problem but we began managing it,” he said, adding that there are now four migrant centres in USK.
The situation in the cantonis better than it was three months ago, but is still not satisfactory, he said.
“We ask that the Security Ministry takes over and oversees the four migrant centres, as that is the obligation of the Ministry. I have a feeling the state was not prepared for the migrant wave,” he said.
“Everyone was tending to their pre-election campaign and the election results, while the situation on the ground escalated,” he said, referring to the 2018 General Election.