Bihac mayor: We can handle only few hundreds of migrants

NEWS 26.07.2018 20:17
Source: N1

Every day 30 to 50 migrants come to the Bosnia’s western town of Bihac and there are currently over 3,000 migrants in several tent settlements across the city, Bihac Mayor Suhret Fazlic told N1.

According to Fazlic, the migrants are mostly finding the shelters in the settlements bordering Croatia, where they often break into empty houses.

“The situation is very difficult,” Fazlic stressed.

Mayors and municipal assembly members of several towns in this northwestern canton protested on Thursday in front of the State Parliament in Sarajevo against how the government is handling the mass influx of migrants, who mostly end up concentrated in their towns near the border with Croatia.

Thousands of migrants have reached the territory of the canton, finding a temporary shelter there on the way to, as they say, final destinations in the western Europe. Cantonal and municipal authorities have been dealing with this burning matter for months, urging the competent institutions at the state level to act and find a situation to the problem the canton is unable to deal with alone.

The citizens are concerned as well, the mayor said.

“We proved our humanity. We were the only ones who reacted. The citizens of Bihac first individually and then through NGO sector fed those people, they found accommodation for them, offered them healthcare and that’s not a question. (…) Of course, we are worried. The autumn is coming, they are getting more and more dissatisfied, they are desperate now and will be in agony when the autumn comes,” said Fazlic.

The protest staged in Sarajevo on Thursday was aimed at informing the public about what was going on in the Una-Sana Canton, he said.

“We have no capacity to accommodate anyone. They came and started constructing a settlement in the city. They started building a settlement in front of the Islamic Pedagogical Faculty, to pitch tents, to eat there, and the City Administration then told them to go to the dormitory. We cleaned up there and organized everything. There were 150 of them back then and it was completely different,” explained Fazlic.

According to him, the only level of authority to solve this situation is the state authority, not cantons or cities. The meetings that cantonal and municipal authorities previously held with State Security Minister Dragan Mektic yielded no result.

“The first time I said I expected the help from minister Mektic when he came the first time, and he actually expected to get the help from us. An absurd situation indeed,” the mayor concluded.

In his opinion, the Security Ministry’s strategy probably was to close the eastern border of the country and let them go to the Una-Sana Canton until they leave to Croatia, which is apparently not functioning.

“We, in Bihac, can always handle several hundred migrants. The migrants are now not coming only from Sarajevo, the Republika Srpska (entity) but even when they are caught somewhere in Croatia, Slovenia or Italy, they are returned to Bihac,” warned Fazlic.