Migrant reception centre 'Vucjak' near the northwestern town of Bihac does not provide ideal conditions but migrants can no longer be allowed in the city's public areas and be under no control, Bihac Mayor Suhret Fazlic said following the meeting with Head of European Union's (EU) Delegation Johann Sattler.
Ambassador Sattler paid the first official visit to Bihac on Tuesday, to discuss with local authorities the ongoing migrant crisis that the northwestern region is dealing with.
Mayor Fazlic thanked the EU official for the support that the EU's office in Sarajevo provided to the City of Bihac in tackling the migrant issue.
“Over 150 migrants came to our city last night again and I'm asking everyone what's going to happen with them and every next migrant who comes to Bihac once the Vucjak centre is closed down. We all agree that conditions at Vucjak are not ideal but we cannot allow the migrants to come to the city and be under no control,” he said.
“I demand that the crisis is solved in a comprehensive way and not partly, and that the burden is shared equally so that Bihac is not the only under attack. Over the past two years, we saved our dignity and now we're coming in the situation where we are displayed as negative people in the context of Vucjak,” said the Mayor.
Outraged by the lack of support from the state-level institutions, local authorities in the northwestern Una-Sana Canton (USK) recently said they would stop the water supply and other utility services for the ‘Vucjak’ camp, and send every migrant seen in the public areas to the camp.
The centre itself is a hot topic with international institutions who deem it unfit for the settlement of migrants due to lack of basic living conditions. But, the USK authorities said they would close it only after new location outside the urban area is approved.
The nearby site Lipa will be proposed to the city councillors on Wednesday, Fazlic confirmed.
“I asked for the closure of the ‘Vucjak’ camp, which doesn't meet the conditions for accommodation of migrants from various aspects. The Vucjak’ camp is a symbol of the dysfunctionality of authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and ‘Vucjak’ will not be closed before new alternative solutions are offered for the accommodation of migrants,” ambassador Sattler said following the meeting.
“There are several locations outside the USK and I believe we will find together with the state Security Minister the locations for the accommodation of migrants from ‘Vucjak’,” he added.
Ambassador Sattler thanked the citizens of Bihac for the aid they provided to migrants over the past two years.
USK region bordering Croatia has become a hub for migrants who are trying to reach their final destinations in western Europe. But since Croatia keeps its border closed for illegal migrants, they stay along the Bosnia-Croatia border strip hoping they would eventually continue their journey.