John Farebrother LLB MA – Statement

Posted: 23. Juna 2019. in Intervjui
Dear friends
it has been several months since Neil and I sent out a bulletin on the ongoing migration crisis in Bosnia, in particular in the Una-Sana canton in the NW of the country on the EU border. But that does not mean that the problem has gone away, or that we have stopped monitoring it. On the contrary: the situation in this part of the country, a de facto holding area for migrants/refugees on the new Balkan route, has now entered a new, dramatic phase.
As was widely predicted, with the spring there was an upsurge in the number of migrants/refugees entering the country from Montenegro and Serbia. 100 new migrants are entering the canton every day. But IOM's official centres in the canton were already at full capacity (400 in the Borići dormitory, 400 in the hotel Sedra and 1,800 in Bira in Bihać, and over 670 in Miral in Velika Kladuša). As a result, the new arrivals have found themselves outside the official system, without access to accommodation, food or medical care. This has led to an increase in vagrancy and petty crime in the towns. It is estimated that there are currently over 6,000 migrants in the canton, while the official capacity is 3,200. Simultaneously, and as was also predicted, Miral has degenerated into a lawless ghetto, with violence between different groups of migrants and drug and alcohol abuse a regular feature: https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/scene-kao-u-filmovima-migranti-sa-sipkama-hodaju-velikom-kladusom-u-potrazi-za-suparnicima/190606021?fbclid=IwAR2obZQWtYVcR4zfLrVh6mWybdlSSgxJr-MibN6cNYPE_k_NVpao2cMXcH8. Several people were injured in a fire earlier this month: https://www.dw.com/hr/spas-pred-vatrom-skokom-kroz-prozor/a-49025671?fbclid=IwAR29JToilF0dM2_avRJSgoEI3IQrdKT1SZHa1U6gUqU-o75ZnW0SP_hvcTc.
 
To compound the problem, the local authorities are accusing central government of failing to act and leaving the problem for them to deal with. There is cooperation with the local authorities in Sarajevo canton, but bypassing central government – a potentially dangerous state of affairs in a country whose constituent parts are already fragmented, and which was one of the ingredients of the war. In addition to driving a wedge between central and local government, the migrant crisis is also being used as a political tool to further exacerbate the fault-lines in the country between and within the two devolved regions. Meanwhile, allegations of police brutality against migrants continue, not only in Croatia, but also in Slovenia, and in Bosnia itself: https://www.h-alter.org/vijesti/na-strani-zvijeri?fbclid=IwAR0CdGWo0yRd_npXSVoTrKZrjpDj_G7IrY0NoRBNxUeBnMmEmyPs8DyNG5U
Several EU countries, the Commission, as well as the US, Japan, and Turkey, have all pledged support to the local authorities, but no-one is addressing the underlying and wider political issue: the global movement of people from Africa and Asia to Europe. This problem will not solve itself, and will not go away. And allowing Bosnia to become a dustbin for the EU shows a reckless disregard for the pre-existing tensions in this part of the world. As reckless as Croatia's latest plan to build a nuclear waste dump on the border.
John Farebrother LLB MA
Emergency logistics consultant
Legal interpreting and translations

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