Bihac mayor on migrant issue: We're sitting on a powder keg

Bihac mayor on migrant issue: We're sitting on a powder keg Izvor: N1

Nobody knows how many migrants are roaming in the streets of the northern Bosnian town of Bihac, said city mayor, Suhret Fazlic, adding that the current situation feels like “sitting on a powder keg.”

According to Fazlic, the state institutions have no power to solve the problem and that the situation is not changing for the better.

“I think that the problems remain while the migrants keep coming. The state institutions have been demonstrating the inefficiency since the beginning,” Fazlic told N1.

The westernmost Bosnian region, the Una-Sana Canton, has been struggling with increasing number of migrants who found a temporary shelter in Bosnia on the way, as they say, to the western Europe countries.

Over 7,000 migrants entered Bosnia through its eastern border, according to the state institutions. Although most of them expressed intention to seek asylum, as a part of the regular procedure, a very low number actually did so. No migrant has been given asylum, Bosnia's Security Minister Dragan Mektic recently confirmed.

“Nobody knows how many of them are in Bihac. 1,000 meals are distributed in the student dormitory, others are staying in private accommodation. 50 migrants are coming a day, but they are constantly leaving, nobody knows who those people are,” Fazlic warned.

The situation feels like “sitting on a powder keg” and, he added, nobody knows for sure what consequences it may leave. The mayor deems the situation will become more dramatic when the weather turns colder.

The state authorities in cooperation with local institutions have been trying to find facilities to accommodate migrants but so far they had no success, either due to objections of local residents or authorities of some municipalities in that canton.

The migrants on their own initiative installed settlements across the city of Bihac, mostly in parks or abandoned buildings, while a number of those with small children were accommodated in 'Sedra' hotel, Cazin municipality.

Fazlic said that the areas around Borici settlement, the Partisan cemetery, and the football stadium were destroyed and that the problem is only likely to grow bigger.

The Bihac mayor assessed that the issue of migrants in the Una-Sana Canton was not a problem of the security minister only but the problem of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had no mechanism or resources to react.

“Mektic has the will and a wish to help but there is no strategy, no plan or money to do something. His dismissal wouldn't change anything, only then a problem would emerge,” Fazlic underlined.

Another problem that current situation has brought is a visible drop in the tourism both in Bihac and the entire canton, he said, adding that people keep on complaining.

“Bihac is not what it used to be,” the mayor said, adding,”we can only sit and cry while watching what's happening.”

Friday, August 10, is the deadline that Una-Sana Canton Prime Minister Husein Rosic set to the Bosnia's Council of Ministers to find a location where the migrants would be accommodated. Rosic and the Una-Sana mayors and heads of municipalities expressed hope at a recent meeting that the Council of Ministers would find a solution and that the Security Ministry would take adequate measures. Rosic warned the problem would be solved at the cantonal level if the state institutions fail to act.

Fazlic confirmed for N1 he would attend the announced protest of Bihac citizens taking place on Monday.

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