A group of NGOs in Italy and the Balkans have denounced that migrants along the Balkan migrant route continue to be illegally expelled from one state to the next. The Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe meanwhile has warned of a "humanitarian emergency" due to squalid conditions at the Vucjak migrant camp in Bosnia.
A group of non-governmental organizations based in Italy, Croatia, Serbia, and North Macedonia have denounced the "increasingly frequent practice on the Balkan migratory route of illegal chain-reaction expulsions" from one country to another.
'Exposed to expulsions every day'
In a statement released on Friday in Zagreb, the group writes that "migrants are exposed to illegal expulsions every day, often with the use of force, the seizure of their belongings, mistreatment and humiliation."
The NGOs refer to statistics that show that thousands of migrants are denied the right to ask for asylum, and in many cases the migrants are expelled and taken from one country to another, often ending up in Greece. Many of the migrants who managed to obtain humanitarian protection or asylum seeker status in Italy told of abuse and mistreatment they suffered along the Balkan route, in particular at the hands of Croatian police.
Council of Europe calling for camp closure in Bosnia
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatovic, called on Bosnian authorities to close the makeshift Vucijak migrant camp near Bihac. In a statement released on Thursday last week, Mijatovic stressed that the camp is overcrowded and that a closure is necessary in order to avert a "humanitarian crisis."
The situation in the camp is alarming due to its vicinity to minefields and for the lack of food, running water, and electricity, and for its precarious sanitary conditions, Mijatovic explained. She urged Bosnian authorities to treat migrants according to human rights standards.
Since the Vucijak camp opened, there have been numerous calls for it to close due to overcrowding and the fact that it is considered totally inadequate for housing refugees and migrants.