We brought a comprehensive plan of cooperation between the state and lower levels of government which would allow us to better tackle the migrant issue and control the crisis, Bosnia's newly appointed Security Minister Selmo Cikotic said Tuesday after the meeting with representatives of north-western Una-Sana Canton and Mayor of Canton's administrative centre Bihac.
“I have a much clearer image of how to make the Plan of Measures and Activities for Effective Management of the Migrant Crisis more concrete, efficient and usable. The plan has seven priorities, 21 measures and 116 activities and we have agreed on mechanisms that are more direct and concrete in cooperation between cantonal and city institutions with Bosnian state institutions in order to make this plan more concrete, making citizens feel safer in their homes and areas which they live on, and for the state institutions to achieve a more efficient level of migrant crisis management," Cikotic said.
Bosnia is experiencing a fresh migrant wave in the wake of the relaxed coronavirus restriction measures across the region and end of the lockdown. After entering the country's eastern border, the migrants move to the north-west hoping they would cross the border with the European Union and reach their final destinations across Europe. But as Croatia keeps its borders closed for illegal migrants, they are stranded in the towns near the Bosnia-Croatia border, mostly accommodated in a few internationally-funded migrant centres but also occupying public areas in urban zones.
Cikotic noted that the goal is for the crisis to be managed more from the state level and less from the cantonal or city level in Bihac, which had suffered most of the burden so far.
“The migrant crisis is a global and complex issue. If one expects to get some magic formula here that will stop this flow – then Bosnia will neither prevent nor stop the movement of migrants. We must primarily improve the capacity and ability of the border police to do their job and strengthen the control of the eastern border. We have promises from both European and domestic institutions that with a series of personnel and other solutions, we will use technical means to raise the level of control of borders with Serbia and Croatia and reduce the number of migrants entering the country," Cikotic said.
The Minister pointed out that he would try to increase the financial resources for these purposes from domestic and international funds.
An estimated 7,000 illegal migrants are currently staying in Bihac and other areas of Una-Sana Canton in northwestern Bosnia.
Of that number, 3,000 are being provided with accommodation in makeshift reception centres, and others are scattered around, staying outdoors.