Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should set up a permanent refugee camp in Lipa, a village near Bihac, and another three to four similar camps in other parts of the country, Drahoslav Stefanek, Special Representative on Migration and Refugees of the Council of Europe, has said.
He visited BiH last winter to see the problems it has in coping with the increased migrant flow. In an interview with Fena news agency published on Saturday, he said he would present an integral report to the CoE Committee of Ministers probably in May.
Stefanek said it was clear the burden of the migrant crisis must be equally distributed throughout the country.
He said three to four more camps accommodating 1,000 people each should be set up in BiH and that Una-Sana and Sarajevo cantons should not be the only ones sharing the responsibility.
He said it was clear that most illegal migrants arriving in BiH did not meet EU asylum requirements, and that it would be useful to improve procedures so that their status was defined immediately. That should be done in Sarajevo, not in Bihać, where they are close to the Croatian border, he added.
Stefanek said one should be realistic as only 20% of the migrants could meet asylum requirements. The rest are economic migrants who do not meet them and the two groups should be identified and separated, he added.
He confirmed that he was recently in Turkey, the main starting point for the largest number of migrants who wish to reach the EU. He said Turkey feared a new spring wave but added that this was difficult to estimate with certainty given the pandemic.
We must be ready, not wait for a new wave, he said, adding that borders must be protected.