Bihac won't accept more migrants, mayor tells Human Rights Commissioner

NEWS 03.12.2019 20:47
Source: N1

Bihac cannot and won't give consent for expanding the capacities of migrant centres in its urban zones, the northwestern Bosnian town mayor Suhret Fazlic said Tuesday, following a meeting with European top human rights official, who condemned inadequate conditions in the infamous 'Vucjak' migrant camp, located at the Bihac outskirts.

“We're aware of the difficult conditions in ‘Vucjak’ and we're really sorry that those people don't have more humane living conditions but, as a local community, we cannot offer an adequate solution. I repeat, those people were relocated to ‘Vucjak’ from the streets and abandoned buildings,” said Fazlic.

Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe's (CoE) Human Rights Commissioner, arrived in Bihac to witness the extremely bad conditions the migrants live in at the ‘Vucjak’ centre, and she called for the immediate shutdown of the camp.

“These conditions are inhumane,” said Mijatovic, adding that the camp must close and migrants relocated otherwise they might start dying soon.

But, Bihac authorities are resolute in refusing to expand already existing temporary shelters in the urban zones. ‘Bira’ centre will not accept the new migrants, the mayor said, “Primarily due to safety and health-related reasons.”

“We in Bihac have been warning about this problem for a long time, but nobody did absolutely anything. Now, as the winter is arriving, everyone suddenly got concerned and humane. If someone in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Europe has a better solution and more adequate conditions, we won't stop them in that,” said Fazlic, recalling that Bihac already hosts a couple of thousands of migrants in three centres – ‘Bira’, ‘Borici’ and ‘Sedra’.

“On top of that, we're asked to expand capacities without any guarantee that those people will be ever relocated from the territory of Bihac. That's unacceptable for us,” he underlined.

Meanwhile, the Security Minister claims a new shelter is about to be ready to accept the migrants from ‘Vucjak’.


 Speaking to N1 on Tuesday, Dragan Mektic said the preparations to make a former barracks ‘Blazuj’ near the Bosnian capital are almost finished.

“It doesn't require a huge investment. That's a former barracks which is suitable to accommodate people,” said the minister adding that migrants’ wish to be close to the border – as they hope to proceed the journey to the western European countries – cannot be fulfilled now.

“We are obliged to provide humane treatment and capacities,” he said. “I feel responsible. All of us together, whoever performs a public duty, we shouldn't allow this situation,” said Mektic.