Urgent Humanitarian Situation: Migrants in BiH

Posted: 29. Novembra 2018. in Intervjui

Update 25 November 2018

“Living conditions for most migrants in Bosnia remain horrific,” says MSF's Koeberer, “most patients coming to our mobile clinic suffer from skin diseases caused by poor hygiene conditions and from respiratory infections due to cold weather and are unable to recover while remaining outside exposed to harsh weather. During the last weeks, our team already treated an increasing number of patients but with temperatures soon falling below five degrees and further at night … we expect severe cases of hypothermia and frostbite, with people's lives at risk if not provided with safe shelter.” Aljazeera 24 November 2018

Present situation in north-west Bosnia on Sunday 25 November 2018

  • The latest official figures for migrants in the canton are VK: 80-1,000, Bihać: 1,900 (Borići/Dormitory 1,000, BIRA 500, Hotel Sedra 100). Reliable, accurate figures do not exist, because of the constantly evolving nature of the problem.
  • The first snow of this winter fell on the night of Monday 19 November, leaving vulnerable migrants in a pitiful situation which was widely covered by the media. https://www.facebook.com/areyousyrious/photos/a.1148067695342112/1148067885342093/?type=3&theatre
  • https://www.facebook.com/RadioVK/videos/2052740108350711/UzpfSTcxNjM2NDc5MjA3Njk1Mjo3MjYxNzE2MDEwOTYyNzE/
  • More snow is forecast for this coming week.
  • Since last week’s reports of violence inflicted in migrants (IFRC treating the injuries of up to 70 migrants per week), further coverage of the violence inflicted on Migrants by the Croatian Police has been provided by Aljazeera yesterday: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/snow-falls-bosnia-cold-adds-assaulted-refugees-woes-181122222505108.html   and further coverage on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIQJqqHTc-E&feature=share and https://apnews.com/66150d4f4ac64d3e823683cee76c7fd9/gallery/media:60dabc43efa94c0f861f1a671945a466
  • In addition to the media coverage at the border areas, it is important to remember that there are other migrants in the country too. On Tuesday 20 November 64 migrants in Ključ, outside the Una Sana Canton were also caught in the snow without proper shelter. And by a flood. They were prevented by the police from entering the canton.
  • On Wednesday 21 November a round table was organised in Bihać by the town council and IOM on “The influence of migration on life in Bihać”.
  • Talks continued on Thursday 22 November between residents and the head of Brekovica Junior School in Bihać, the ministries of health and education, and UNICEF, on some 50 children from the hotel Sedra attending that school. The main concern is possible health risks for local children.
  • Work by the council preparing the Dormitory (also known as Borići, because of the pine wood in its grounds where refugees were camping until recently) is ongoing, and is schedule to be completed in December. Dormitory residents are to be moved temporarily to BIVA and Ušivak to allow the works to continue.
  • Local groups report that the greatest immediate needs for the migrants are male winter clothing, tents, sleeping bags, blankets, and male underwear. But the critical issue is shelter over winter.
  • Today is Bosnian Statehood Day, commemorating the first Bosnian Resistance conference in Mrkonjić Grad in 1943 at which Bosnia's status as a country in its own right was reaffirmed, as one of the six equal Yugoslav republics, within its current borders as established in 1699 (the end of the Habsburg War in which the Ottomans lost large territories in Croatia and Hungary). On Friday wreathes were laid at a ceremony at the Partisan memorial in VK, and a commemoration was held in Bihać. Sretan Dan državnosti!

 

Response:

While some progress has been made over the last week, the rapidly worsening weather, unrest amongst the migrants in BiH itself and repeated exposure to violence from Croatian Police at the border make this a very difficult situation. The main concern remains a lack of a joined-up multi-agency humanitarian effort and the need for greatly increased resources to address both these immediate needs, and more medium-term humanitarian issues.

Response by Agency/Organisation

IOM:

  • Continues renting accommodation for the migrants and providing payment, mainly to the BiH Red Cross to provide meals for the migrants (see below)
  • On Wednesday 21 November, most of the 200-odd migrants in Drmeljevo/Trnovi were moved by IOM/UNHCR to Miral. However, not all of them wanted to go, and a fight broke out. Those who remained cited fear as their reason for not moving, without specifying what they are afraid of. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGbAAdjowao&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2ezm77tLP4MQXnIicm50BFb3sn1y3LhYWoiTnun7L6DAev8Dr8oSbeU0A
  • IOM has been given the approval of the ministry of security and the EU to use Miral as an emergency shelter through the winter – presumably with the agreement with the owner.

UNHCR

  • Primary Health Care is provided by UNHCR in Bihać
  • UNHCR were involved in the problematic transfer process of the 200-odd migrants in Drmeljevo/Trnovi to Miral (see above)

IFRC

  • In late June, IFRC released 200,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to bolster local efforts.
  • IFRC is considering launching an Emergency Appeal. (We have requested an update/more details on progress).

BiH Red Cross Society

  • Red Cross teams in Bihac are providing support including first aid, food, clothes, and information. But with hundreds of people arriving or transiting through the region each week, local resources have been overwhelmed.
  • The Red Cross Society of BiH distributes three meals per day with the financial support of IOM (in Velika Kladuša this service is supplemented by local restaurant owner, Latan).
  •  Both IOM and IFRC plan to make available more winter items.

ECHO

  • An ECHO representative was part of the EU delegation which visited Bihać on Thursday 15 November.
  • Overall, the EU (including ECHO) has allocated more than €7.2m of funding, which is focused on the provision of accommodation and essential needs of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Bosnia. This includes providing funding to IOM

DFID/FCO

  • DFID’s Migration Team and Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE) have been unable to provide support to date.
  • The British Embassy, Sarajevo, has allocated £500,000 of CSSF funding to IOM, in agreement signed on Thursday 22 November. This is not humanitarian funding but will be directed through IOM to support Bihac and Cazin municipalities provide key services to both local communities and migrants and refugees (waste collection, maintenance of public spaces and street lighting in the area around one of the reception centres and border villages. (We have asked for confirmation if the “border villages” includes Velika Kladuša municipality, otherwise absent). Please see press release attached.

Others

  • Local groups, for example local teachers, continue volunteering tirelessly to alleviate the plight of the migrants, with some of their work covered in the media links we provided on Tuesday 20 November.  It is such local volunteers and the volunteers of the Red Cross Society of BiH (supported by IFRC and IOM) who are the most effective in identifying and meeting the real needs.
  • The Network for Building Peace, SOS Velika Kladuša and Are You Syrious? issued a further appeal to the Bosnian authorities, the EU, the UNHCR and the IOM, as well as all other relevant organisations and institutions, to resolve the issue of adequate and humane accommodation of all migrants and refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina, urgently and without delay. https://www.mreza-mira.net/vijesti/aktivnosti-mreze/zahtijevamo-human-i-dostojanstven-tretman-izbjeglica-i-migranata-u-bih/?fbclid=IwAR34x3mbxvqG9di5ZzuWdkD6Uwjn6s4bQN0UVDVyGw3yqUEJUgQ8jLaD-PY
  • On Friday 23 November Edinburgh Direct Aid dispatched its initial truck with part of the cargo being essential winter items for distribution in cooperation with such local actors. This initial truck will be followed up with a further larger vehicle depending on the outcome of distributions. https://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/category/Charity-Organization/Edinburgh-Direct-Aid-1408736506010028/
  • On Monday 19 November, the Turkish Ambassador met the minister of health and social affairs in Sarajevo to discuss possible assistance re the migrant crisis.

Key stakeholders and Contacts:  

IOM BiH: Peter Van der Auweraert.

Email: PVANDERAUWERAERT@iom.int

IFRC Regional Office Budapest: Henriett Koos, Disaster and Crisis Response Snr. Officer

Tel : +36 1 888 4518    Mob. +36 70 430 6516   Email henriett.koos@ifrc.org

British Embassy Sarajevo: Laurie Hunter. Laurie.Hunter@fco.gov.uk

DFID Migration Team, London:  Joe Kuper. Email j-kuper@dfid.gov.uk

British Red Cross, London: Ben Webster, Head of Emergencies.

Tel: +44 (0) 207 877 7615 Mobile: +44 (0) 7872 063 288  Email: BWebster@redcross.org.uk

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