Despite the stir about a large number of migrants arriving in Bosnia, particularly in its northwestern part, the country is still not suffering from a migrant crisis, the UNHCR spokesperson in the country, Neven Crvenkovic, told N1 on Wednesday.
“The situation may not be critical if there was a coordinated and joint approach to resolve this problem in which the citizens of Velika Kladusa and Bihac would have support in finding solutions for the worst problem, which is accommodating the migrants,” Crvenkovic said.
Since the beginning of 2018, the number of migrants passing through Bosnia has drastically increased. The country became a significant transit point for the thousands of migrants after numerous neighboring countries closed their borders.
The migrants aim to reach the EU through Bosnia and Croatia. Croatian border police, however, often turns them away and send them back to Bosnia.
The northwestern cities of Bihac, Cazin and Velika Kladusa are located near Croatia’s border and are strongly affected by the situation.
But not all of those who come are simply ‘migrants’, Crvenkovic said.
“These people are coming in much larger numbers than last year, and they are not just migrants (…) but also refugees who come to Bosnia,” he said.
Crvenkovic explained that the idea of the legal procedure for granting asylum is to determine the difference between migrants and refugees.
“This difference needs to be emphasized. We don’t believe that this is a migrant-refugee crisis because the numbers, which are higher than last year, when compared to the true migrant crisis in 2016 really don’t justify the term ‘crisis’,” he said.
The UNHCR has helped a lot in tackling the issue, Crvenkovic noted.
“We are helping in various ways,” he said, noting that the UNHCR helped setting up the asylum centre in Delijas, near Sarajevo, and the migrant centre in Salakovac, near Mostar.
“We provided an info centre in Sarajevo, where we helped asylum seekers and they could register in that facility,” he said