Bosnian Authorities Mull Response to Sarajevo Migrant Camp

Migrants and refugees have set up camp in a Sarajevo park, highlighting a recent rise in people using Bosnia as a transit route as the authorities try to find a strategy to deal with them.

Groups of migrants and refugees have set up an improvised tent camp in a park near City Hall in Sarajevo as the Bosnian authorities try to find a solution to deal with the increasing number of people using the country as a transit route to Western Europe this year.

Migrants in the camp declined to be interviewed for this article, just saying that they want to continue their journey towards the EU.

It is estimated that there are several hundred migrants at the camp but the Sarajevo authorities do not have any data on how many. Local Sarajevans bring them food and other supplies.

According to the country’s Border Police, 3, 150 migrants were detected while trying to enter or after having entered Bosnia from January to the end of April this year. The majority tried to enter Bosnia from Serbia or Montenegro.

This represents almost double the amount in 2017, when 605 attempts were recorded for the entire year.

“Four hundred migrants were registered in April this year, which is three times more than in January this year and in most of the cases, they are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kosovo, Turkey, Syria, Libya, Morocco and Iran,” Sanela Dujkovic, spokesperson for Bosnia’s Border Police, told BIRN.

The Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of Sarajevo Canton, Amela Dautbegovic, told the Canton Assembly on Monday that there is no accurate information on the exact numbers of refugees and migrants in the capital, adding that the situation is changing by the hour.

“Those people must be registered and obtain a status, either that of an asylum-seeker or a migrant, so we can decide on further steps,” Dautbegovic said.

Dautbegovic also said that the issue must be resolved on a state level, and that in the next two days the Bosnian Council of Minister should adopt a plan.

“This should be done in the coming days, I think on Thursday, all our agencies [from Bosnia’s Security Ministry of Bosnia] will hand over their reports so the Council of Ministers can adopt them and define its next steps,” Assistant Security Minister Marijan Baotic told BIRN. 

Hundreds of thousands of migrants passed through the so-called ‘Balkan route’ in 2015, trying to reach Western Europe, but Bosnia was not part of that route, which was effectively shut down in March 2016. 

Migrants then started searching for new routes from Turkey and Greece to Western Europe via Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, and now Bosnia.

Source: balkaninsight