Suhret Fazlic, the Mayor of Bihac, Bosnia's northwest, said all resources will be made available to help the migrants after the fire destroyed the temporary camp 'Lipa' where more than 1,000 of them were accommodated. However, he stressed, the state institutions must find a solution to the ongoing migrant issue in this part of the country.
“Nobody normal could lack empathy for those people, but I have been feeling that way for three years. We certainly don't lack the empathy,” Fazlic told N1, adding that the protest of locals in Bihac is not aimed against migrants but against how the state institutions and international organisations are treating the issue.
He hopes he will meet the Security Minister Selmo Cikotic as soon as Monday to discuss the migrant crisis in that part of the country.
The temporary camp ‘Lipa’ at the outskirts of Bihac run by the International Organisation for Migrations (IOM) closed two days ago. Most of the facility was severely damaged as the migrants set some of its tents on fire as they were leaving.
The camp's shutdown came after repeated calls from IOM for Bosnian state authorities to provide water, electricity and road access to the camp, so it can provide shelter in winter conditions. After none of it happened, the IOM staff withdrew from the camp.
Fazlic urged international organisations to get engaged and help solve the new problem that emerged – thousands of migrants left in the open without food.
“We won't let them die at ‘Lipa’ but ‘Bira’ (former camp situated in Bihac's urban zone) is out of the question,” Fazlic underlined.
As long as the Security Ministry and foreign organisations do not say it, the situation will remain unsolved, said the mayor.
He slammed the way in which those organisations as well as the state institutions, foremost the Security Minister, treat this matter,
“All of those who sent their statements are gone for holidays. We reached the point where there is no more cooperation. Cikotic must come to Bihac and say that ‘Bira’ is out of the question. If someone tries to do that using force, not 80 or 300 but ten thousand people will come to ‘Bira’ to prove it. Do we need that?,” asked Fazlic.
According to him, the state institutions did not do the job properly because its Foreign Affairs’ Service did not run the ‘Bira’ camp.
“The International Organisation for Migrations did that, and that was the violation of the country's sovereignty,” he stressed, reiterating that the solution to the current situation must be found.