Bihac authorities fear escalation of migrant crisis

Bihac authorities fear escalation of migrant crisis

Bihac authorities fear escalation of migrant crisis Izvor: Anadolija

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is critical due to the problem of illegal migration and it will certainly be even worse as there is still no coordination in taking the necessary measures nor any indication that the new Council of Ministers might take more resolute action, said Nermin Kljajic, the Interior Minister of the Una-Sana Canton, Bosnia's westernmost region bordering Croatia.

"There is no coordination whatsoever between the state and the lower-level government. Although the Council of Ministers was formed two months ago, there is still no serious response regarding the protection of Una-Sana Canton when it comes to illegal migration,"  Kljajic was quoted as saying in Monday's Nezavisne Novine daily.

Una-Sana Canton is the hardest hit by the migrant crisis. Bihac city authorities estimate that there are about 5,000 illegal migrants in that region. Precise data indicates that 3,500 are accommodated in reception centres, while the rest are left to their own devices, staying in private accommodation if they can afford it, while others sleep in abandoned and dilapidated buildings in urban areas.

Kljajic says all reception centres have been full for a long time and that the situation is critical as Bosnia has no consolidated migration management plan.

Local police are having a hard time dealing with the challenges as the number of criminal offences is rising and there is no money to hire more officers.

A mild winter has already encouraged illegal migrants to attempt to continue towards BiH's western border, with more and more arriving in Una-Sana Canton every day. According to local police, at least 80 arrive every day and there is no room to accommodate them.

The canton's prime minister, Mustafa Ruznic, has said Bihac fears a likely escalation of the problem. "The worst is yet to come."

According to Ruznic, the cantonal government has asked that the Bira reception centre in Bihac and Miral in Velika Kladusa be dismantled and that a larger transit centre, where all illegal migrants would be accommodated, be set up outside residential areas. A location has been proposed but the state authorities have not taken the time to consider the initiative.

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