Number of illegal migrants crossing Bosnia's border rising

Number of illegal migrants crossing Bosnia's border rising Izvor: Granična policija BiH

The number of illegal migrants registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina keeps rising. They had to cross the border somewhere - and not at the official crossing, but somewhere along the porous and unprotected border.

The N1 TV team has already several times proven how porous the country's borders are, when they crossed into the country near the town of Rudo and made it deeply into Bosnia's Republika Srpska entity territory without border police stopping them at any point.

This was also done a month later by parliamentarian Sasa Magazinovic who directly asked the Council of Ministers why the country's border is not better protected.

The Council of Ministers admitted the failures in their answer - it is difficult to keep oversight over this road which is often used for smuggling. This is why both Bosnia and Serbia intensified their efforts to monitor the area.

Magazinovic recently posed the question again, demanding an extraordinary government session to take place and address the issue. According to him, 700 illegal migrants best illustrate the fact that not much has changed.

"This whole issue regarding the illegal entries into the country also touches upon the issue of the trafficking of narcotics, people and weapons as it confirms that our border is porous”, Magazinovic said. “Because such a large number of people enter Bosnia and Herzegovina after which they show up in Sarajevo to register at the Service for Foreigners' Affairs, it is clear they have not arrived by plane. This information shows that they used our porous borders and that the number of them doing this is high".

The border police today counts 1.845 police officers and public servants, which is not enough to cover the country's borders. An outdated systematization is in place, set up long before Croatia joined the European Union and long before the beginning of the migrant crisis which now represents a challenge for Bosnia's government.

"One fifth of our policing job positions are vacant, which amounts to 500 people. We can not keep exhausting our people. We move them around, as the area through which the migrants enter keeps getting wider. We neet a better government reaction, it needs to create the capacities, so that we can react timely and efficiently," Security Minister Dragan Mektic warned.

Apart from a lack of staff and equipment, border police officials emphasize the problem of the outdated border crossings where only 25 percent of a total of 83 crossings meet the standards required for efficient oversight.

Despite all, the border police received the highest evaluation from international organizations dealing with migration.

"We deploy our forces to the critical areas. We send support to our units in Visegrad, Trebinje and now Kladuša as well because of its vicinity to Croatia.”, said Slobodan Krstic, an aid to Bosnia's Border Police Director.

“Could we do better? Of course we could, but only within our capacities... The border police has registered 1450 people who illegally crossed the border within the first three months of 2018, while another 760 were prevented from doing so. Those are, nevertheless, not bad results", he said.

Up until now, the Council of Ministers has not responded to Sasa Magazinovic's initiative to hold an extraordinary session on the subject. The Border Police and the state Security Ministry emphasize that the situation is not alarming, but that this issue represents a challenge which the country must face.  

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