Transfering the numerous migrants from centres in the Una-Sana Canton (USK) to the mainly Serb-populated area of Medeno Polje is “unacceptable” and was thought up by politicians in Sarajevo with the goal of “chasing Serbs away” from their homes, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Tuesday.
Dodik’s statement came after the day before authorities in the USK decided to relocate the migrants from the centres ‘Vucjak’, ‘Bira’ and ‘Miral’ toMedeno polje.
“This was thought up in Sarajevo so that Serbs are chased away from Medeno Polje, their centuries-long homes,” Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, told journalists.
He said that “part of the Bosniak political elite views the migrants with sympathy as they could mount pressure on those who are not Bosniaks.”
But according to USK Interior Minister Nermin Kljajic, there is no alternative.
“We suggested this location back in 2017, but our partners from the Council of Ministers (Bosnia's government) failed to support us. To this day, we were unable to find a better location for their accommodation,” USK Interior Minister Nermin Kljajic said.
The head of the Committee for the protection of the rights of Serbs in Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity, Djordje Radanovic, announced that Serbs will block the road so the migrants cannot be transferred to Medeno Polje.
He argued that the transfer would violate Annexe 7 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which ensures the rights of all returnees to live in their prewar homes and have their property restored.
Radanovic pointed out that Medeno Polje is surrounded by the Serb villages of Suvaja, Kolunic, Vrtoce and Vedro Polje populated only by Serbs and that “USK authorities now suggest sending 6,000 or 7,000 Muslims from Afro-Asian countries” there.
Bosnia has become a hotspot for migrants since the beginning of 2018, as surrounding countries closed their borders.
Most of the migrants end up in USK, trying to cross the border to Croatia. Croatian police turn them back, and they remain stranded in Bosnia.
Authorities and citizens in USK have been complaining that the state government ignores the problem.