Arhiva za 2. Decembra 2018.

“Refugees and migrants brave cold and snow to try to reach Croatia. This photo essay by AP shows dozens of refugees and migrants wrapped in blankets and gathered around fires as they try to stay warm in a makeshift camp in the Bosnian town of Bihac, near the Croatian border. With the weather worsening, tents offer little protection from snow and freezing temperatures. Over 22,000 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants have arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018. Many of them hope to cross into Croatia, which is part of the EU, but are often turned back by border police. The European Commission announced yesterday that it has allocated an additional €500,000 to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” (UNHCR Daily Refugee Brief)

Overall situation in north-west Bosnia on Sunday 2 December 2018

    • Reliable, accurate figures of the numbers of Migrants in BiH and their exact locations do not appear to exist, because of the constantly evolving nature of the problem and lack of coordinated efforts/adequate information management. The latest figures available to us are:
      • According to the Police, there are 592 migrants registered in Velika Kladuša district.
      • Some sources claim that there are up to 3,000 migrants in the Una-Sana canton.
      • The latest official figures we obtained, two weeks ago, are VK: 800-1,000, Bihać: 1,900 (Borići/Dormitory 1,000, BIRA 500, Hotel Sedra 100).
      • According to the German NGO “Medicos” (see below), 16,000 migrants have entered the country since the end of September 2018 (last year it was 400).
      • According to IOM, 23,000 migrants have entered BiH, of whom 7,000 are still in the country.
      • According to the European Commission Over 22,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants have arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018, of which around 4000 are currently in need of humanitarian assistance.
  • The European Commission has stated that “Thanks to EU funding, most of the persons of concern are accommodated in facilities in Bihać, Velika Kladuša and near Sarajevo. Additional accommodation is however urgently needed”.


  • On the morning of Thursday 29 November, there was heavy frost and the temperature was – 5 degrees. More snow is forecast for next Sunday 9 December, after a warm week.
  • There are still around 70 migrants in the makeshift camp at Drmeljevo/Trnovi in VK. One of them said he was afraid to move to Miral because it is dangerous – there are tensions between the different groups of migrants, and some consume alcohol and drugs. There was a major affray there three weeks ago.
  • The local police are continuing their policy of preventing new arrivals in the canton, by searches of all modes of transport. As a result, dozens of migrants are roughing it in places like Ključ, caught in the administrative no-man’s land between the two devolved regions that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina (being the Federation and Republika Srpska).
  • On Thursday 6 December, there was another visit by a EU delegation to Bihać. They will be supporting the local government with KM 100,000 (50,000 euros) for Bihać hospital, and 80,000 for the Cantonal Police Force. The delegation stressed the need for a coordinated operational response to the migrant crisis.

The pattern of seeking Asylum and Legal Issues

  • According to Medico, UNHCR have recorded 2,500 forced returns this year:
  • Croatia continues its policy of sending back migrants who are detained on the other side of the border. Some migrants have been in the Balkans for months, and have been deported multiple times. According to the Medico, Croatia is under a duty to allow people to apply for asylum there, because BiH is not a “safe country” and has no asylum system of its own. But because Zagreb aspires to join Schengen, they want to demonstrate that they can manage the EU border:
  • It is also the case that, if the migrants were allowed to cross Croatian territory, they would get stuck at the Slovenian border, as happened in 2016. Thus the problem would merely be shifted from Bosnia to Croatia – a recurrent theme in this crisis.
  • Dr Kurt Doebbler, a human rights lawyer who defended Saddam Hussein, and who worked in the Balkans during and after the war, inter alia for MSF during the 1995-1996 refugee crisis in Kupljensko 30 km across the border from VK, said this week: “indeed the Refugee Convention requires that States allow asylum seekers to apply for protection. Interfering with this right constitutes a violation of that treaty (legal) obligation and may also violate other human rights obligations.”

Specific Issues and Areas of Need

The Situation Facing Migrants in Serbia

Humanitarian Response:

The certainty of worsening weather conditions, unrest amongst the migrants in BiH itself and their repeated exposure to violence from Croatian Police at the border continue to make this a very difficult situation. The European Commission has announced the allocation of a further €500,000 to continue assisting the most vulnerable refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The EU Delegation has stressed the need for a coordinated operational response to the migrant crisis and the urgent need for accommodation.

Response by Agency/Organisation


  • Continues renting accommodation for the migrants and providing payment, mainly to the BiH Red Cross to provide meals for the migrants (see below)


  • Primary Health Care is provided by UNHCR in Bihać


  • 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.

European Commission

  • The European Commission has allocated an additional €500,000 to continue assisting the most vulnerable refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • This additional funding brings EU humanitarian assistance in the Western Balkans to €31 million since the start of the refugee crisis in 2015, including €2 million for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018.
  • “Refugees and migrants continue to arrive in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU is committed to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, supporting the efforts of national and local authorities. Our humanitarian aid will provide food, water, emergency shelter, sanitation, health care and warm clothing” said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
  • EU's humanitarian assistance is provided in locations such as Bihac, Velika Kladusa and Sarajevo.
  • The short-term emergency assistance is complemented by a mid-term response amounting to €7.2 million. It aims to strengthen the country's migration management capacities and provide adequate accommodation and basic services as well as provide education.
  • In May 2018, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina officially requested assistance from the EU. The European Commission continues to monitor the situation and do everything it can to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground. It is crucial that the national and local authorities provide refugees and migrants with proper accommodation.


  • DFID’s Migration Team and Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE) have been unable to provide funding or any other form of 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.


  • 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.
  • On Friday 23 November Edinburgh Direct Aid dispatched its initial truck with part of the cargo being essential winter items which have been provided 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.
  • Save the Children is recruiting 20 Child Protection Officers for Bihać.

Key stakeholders and Contacts:  

IOM BiH: Peter Van der Auweraert.


UNHCR Sarajevo:

Stephanie Woldenberg. Email:

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

Tel : +36 1 888 4518    Mob. +36 70 430 6516   Email

European Commission:

Press contacts:

British Embassy Sarajevo: Laurie Hunter.

DFID Migration Team, London:  Joe Kuper. Email

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

Tel: +44 (0) 207 877 7615 Mobile: +44 (0) 7872 063 288  Email: