“Migrants, go home!” and “Close 'Bira' down” - the residents of Una-Sana Canton (USK), Bosnia's northwestern region, shouted as they protested Friday afternoon in front of one of the temporary shelters for migrants in Bihac, demanding that the camp is closed down and migrants removed from the urban zones.
Some 300 locals arrived in front of the 'Bira' camp in Bihac for what they said was a “peaceful gathering” to raise their voice against the presence of migrants near their homes and urban zones in general.
They said they wanted to spend time in their neighbourhoods “in peace.”
Shocked by the gathering against their presence, the migrants said they never intended to stay in Bosnia but hope to continue their journey towards the European Union countries.
What they complain about are the conditions in the camps set up for their accommodation. One of those camps is situated near Bihac, the 'Vucjak' centre, for which the EU institutions warned it did not meet the basic living conditions and asked the local authorities to close it down.
To provide the accommodation for the migrants, the authorities were asked to pick a new location but their efforts are hindered by locals who object camps for migrants near their settlements.
For now, the first step the USK authorities made was restricting the movement of the migrants around the temporary centres, the task force monitoring the migrant situation decided this week.
Over the past year, 25,000 migrants entered the country and although there is no precise data, competent authorities estimate that there are some 9,000 of them in the country right now.
Since Croatia keeps its borders closed for illegal migrants, they are mostly stranded in the Bosnia's northwest, at the EU's gate.