EU Delegation tells Bosnian authorities to close Vucjak migrant camp

NEWS 18.10.2019 11:45
Source: N1

The EU condemned the forcible transfer of hundreds of migrants to the improvised Vucjak shelter by the Una-Sana Canton police, calling upon the local authorities to immediately cease this practice, the Office of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina said on Friday.

“The EU Office calls upon all levels of government to urgently address the challenges that the migrant flow is posing to Bosnia. All authorities must step up their efforts and take responsibility,” the EU Delegation said. We call upon the authorities in Bihac and Una-Sana Canton to immediately cease the forcible transfer of migrants to Vucjak. We have been clear in our discussions with all the relevant authorities that the Vucjak shelter must be closed. It is not only unsafe but also an undignified location.”

Suhret Fazlic, the Mayor of Bihac, said Tuesday in Sarajevo that the migrant situation in this town is escalating fast and if the State authorities do not provide additional financial aid to this canton he said he will lead a protest of USK residents in front of the Bosnian Parliament building in Sarajevo.

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He warned that this winter could prove to be a humanitarian catastrophe for the migrants who have nothing but blankets on them.

Following his media address, the Una-Sana Canton's police began the operation of relocating thousands of migrants from urban areas into the Vucjak migrant centre constructed on an abandoned waste dump site for which many experts warned could be hazardous to one's health.

The authorities of the Bihac City and the Una-Sana Canton have been shouldering this problem so far, the Delegation said noting that they must not be left alone.

As winter approaches, the State authorities must not put human lives in peril, the Delegation said.

They recommended that the existing facilities be expanded and suitable alternative facilities need to be identified by the Bosnian authorities, now.

“The EU is ready to deploy significant assistance for the development of those sites. Since 2018 the EU has provided €34 million. This support includes the provision of shelter, food, water, sanitation, clothing, psychosocial assistance and access to education and health in five reception centres,” the Delegation said.

According to them, the EU assistance is also strengthening migration management capacities through the provision of the necessary equipment and assistance to the Una Sana Canton Police, the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, the BiH Border Police and the Sector for Asylum. It also helps the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the voluntary return of migrants to their countries of origin.

“The EU will continue to support improving the capacity of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities for coping with the migration challenges but we also expect all the authorities in the country to work together in good faith to find ways for burden-sharing,” the Delegation said.