Two migrant centres in urban areas of the northwestern Bosnian towns of Bihac and Velika Kladusa will be shut down and new facilities to accommodate migrants will be set up on a new location, Bosnia's task force for the migrant issue said on Thursday.
Dragan Mektic, the Minister of Security, told the press after the task force meeting that the Bihac City Council picked a new location, Vucijak settlement, on outskirts of the town, which the state-level body accepted.
The task force acted on a proposal of the Bihac City Council and will now forward the decision to the European Commission which, according to Mektic, “should and must fund this project.”
The northwestern Una-Sana region has been affected the most with the ongoing migrant crisis, with thousands of foreign nationals being accommodated in temporary shelters in Bihac and Velika Kladusa.
After several incidents involving the migrants, locals said their safety was jeopardised which triggered the authorities to react.
The migrants hope to eventually cross the European Union borders and continue their journey, but since Croatia keeps its border closed for illegal migrants they are stranded in the Una-Sana region, which borders Croatia.
According to Mektic, the costs of the new centre should be lower than those previously determined by the International Organisation for Migrations (IOM).
“Their assessment says it is about 19 million marks (approx. 9.5 million Euros) but I think this financial evaluation should be revised and that these costs could be significantly lower,” said the minister who chairs the task force.
Jasmin Emric, a lawmaker representing the Una-Sana Canton in Bosnia's State Parliament, told reporters that an action plan should be drafted within five days, to set up the guidelines for preparing the new centre and sending the migrants there.
Like Minister Mektic, MP Emric also thinks that the IOM's evaluation of the costs is not realistic and that new costs estimates will be sent to the European Commission.
The migrants must be relocated on a location which would not jeopardise everyday life of citizens in the Una-Sana region, particularly Bihac and Velika Kladusa, he added.
This is the problem of the state and not of the City of Bihac or its mayor, said Emric.
Suhret Fazlic, the mayor, said he was pleased that the task force accepted the new location and that “the task force is finally taking over the job it has to do, and that's dealing with the migrant crisis.”
“Regardless of anyone's decision, it is my intention and plan to prepare the ground on that location, to set up the tents and not allow any of such camps being installed in Bihac,” said Fazlic, calling for support of the European Commission, the IOM and other donors.
The City Council unanimously decided in a session this month that the Vucijak settlement would be a new location to relocate the migrants from the urban areas.
Vucijak is situated at the foot of the Mt. Pljesevica, near the border with Croatia.