Bosnian police have prevented some 7,000 migrants from illegally entering the country this year, the chief of the border police, Zoran Galic, said in an interview with the Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz newspaper on Saturday.
He warned that because of the shortage of manpower and equipment the border police were no longer able to effectively control illegal migration.
Most of the 7,000 illegal migrants who were turned back at the border were from Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Syria, and they were mostly economic migrants, Galic said.
“We cannot defend the border on our own. Currently, the border police are being assisted by 15 officers from the State Investigation and Protection Agency, 28 police officers from the Directorate for Police Coordination and 84 police officers from Republika Srpska (the country's Serb-dominated entity),” he said.
Galic said that the Bosnian border police service was currently short of about 1,000 police officers to effectively cover about 600 kilometres of border with Serbia and Montenegro. He said that as many as 85 percent of all border police were deployed at 83 international and local border crossings.
By comparison, Croatia has about 6,000 border police, which is three times more than the 2,051 border police in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Galic said.
According to the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, about 30,000 illegal migrants have entered Bosnia and Herzegovina this year, and they are mostly accommodated in and around Bihac and Sarajevo. A considerably larger number of foreign nationals have been observed in the Tuzla area in recent days.