Bosnia braves for 'migrant crisis' amid lack of funds

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Bosnia and Herzegovina has found itself in the midst of a migrant crisis with a government crying over lack of funds.

Top officials on Tuesday urged assistance for irregular migrants who make a stop in Bosnia during their treacherous journey to western Europe.

After the Balkan route — through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary or Croatia — was closed for refugees in March 2016 — Bosnia is being used as an alternate route.

Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe (CoE) commissioner for human rights, urged the country to take necessary measures for the migrants who are arriving in Bosnia in droves.

Mijatovic also called for adequate accommodation at all available refugee centers and food and healthcare for the migrants.

In a letter the COE ministers for human rights and refugees, said: "[We] are concerned by the lack of a systematic response to the situation of refugees and migrants who sleep rough on the streets and in the parks with irregular access to food and health assistance."

So far 4,000 migrants are on the streets, police says, a stark contrast to only 700 since the outbreak of the global refugee crisis in 2011.

Bosnia, one of the poorer countries in Europe, with a population of 3.5 million understands the refugee crisis, as most of its residents have lived through bloody wars in the 90s, which led to its independence from former Yugoslavia.

Denis Zvizdic, chairman of the council of ministers, and among the 13 prime ministers of the country, held a meeting with Security Minister Dragan Mektic, Economy and Foreign Trade Minister Mirko Sarovic and Foreigners' branch Director Slobodan Ujic to discuss the subject.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Zvizdic said that asylum seekers staying in public areas such as parks will be accommodated in available buildings.

"The coordinating unit will be working on asylum seekers. Since the beginning of May, daily 100 asylum seekers have been entering Bosnia and Herzegovina," said Zvizdic.

Previously, he had said that the country did not have the resources to accommodate the rising number of refugees.

– Serbs against refugees

Milorad Dodik, president of the Republic Srpska (Serb Republic), one of the two entities of Bosnia, said they will not accept asylum seekers.

"There is no question of opening the refugee center or camp in Republic Srpska," said Dodik.

Zeljka Cvijanovic, prime minister of the entity, said the increasing number of asylum seekers is unacceptable and in case of an influx Bosnia should seal its borders.

Husein Kavazovic, head of the Bosnia's Islamic Union, said that all the indicators point toward a crisis.

"International organizations should take the necessary measures immediately," said Kavazovic.

Kavazovic called on the country's administrators to find a solution for the people sleeping in the parks.

The migrants are mostly from Pakistan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Morocco. Most are residing temporarily in border cities like Zvornik, Trebinje and Velika Kladusa.