The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) teams recorded over 170 extremely violent pushback cases from Croatia, with migrants reporting visible injuries allegedly caused by Croatian police, DRC chief in Bosnia and Herzegovina Nicola Bay told N1.
The statement comes days after foreign media reported on migrant allegations claiming they were severely beaten by police officers in Croatia, after attempts to cross the border with that country from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Besides physical torture, some of the migrants even reported sexual abuse, said Bay.
He warned that the situation in Bosnia's northwestern Una-Sana Canton (USC), which borders Croatia, is rather critical.
According to him, over 3,000 migrants in that area do not have access to shelters and are sleeping in abandoned buildings or improvised tent camps in the woods.
The shutdown of 'Bira' camp on September 30 was a concerning development, stressed Bay, noting that this facility could accept more than 2,000 migrants and provide them with a shelter during the winter. 'Lipa' camp, situated outside the city, is not adequate for winter conditions and it currently hosts 1,500 migrants, he added.
Bihac Mayor, Suhret Fazlic, agrees about inadequate conditions at the 'Lipa' camp but strongly objects reopening of the one in the city's urban zone.
“The only way out and the only solution is to invest in Lipa and prepare Lipa for the winter,” the mayor told N1 earlier this week, suggesting that the European Union should finance the construction of migrant centres in the whole country not only in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But, the EU sent out a clear message on Thursday, calling on Bosnian authorities to “urgently provide shelter to all refugees and migrants in need, to avert the risk of a humanitarian crisis in the coming winter.”
The European Commission recalled in a statement to N1 that the Brussels has provided €60.5 million since 2018 to help Bosnia and Herzegovina strengthen the migration management capacities and to address immediate needs of refugees and migrants.
DRC's Bay also expressed concern over a potential humanitarian crisis.
If a solution in terms of accommodation capacities is not found soon, we will face a serious humanitarian crisis in the Una-Sana Canton, he underlined.