Migrants at a military barracks in Blazuj, on the outskirts of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 12 December 2019. Migrants were transferred to the military barracks after Bosnian officials closed a makeshift tent camp in Vujcak, near Bihac, due to disastrous conditions at the camp | Photo: EPA/FEHIM DEMIR
Migrants at a military barracks in Blazuj, on the outskirts of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 12 December 2019. Migrants were transferred to the military barracks after Bosnian officials closed a makeshift tent camp in Vujcak, near Bihac, due to disastrous conditions at the camp | Photo: EPA/FEHIM DEMIR

The Bosnian government is calling on the European Union to recognize that the migratory crisis in Bosnia "must not be treated only as a humanitarian question, but also as a security crisis".

Bosnian Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic held a press conference on Monday during a visit to Zagreb, Croatia, where he met with Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic. "I asked for help from our Croatian colleagues, that they would inform the friends in the EU that the migratory crisis must not be treated only as a humanitarian question; it's no longer about refugees, it's a security crisis," Radoncic said. 


'Someone in Bosnia has been asleep' 

Radoncic said the majority of migrants in Bosnia come from Pakistan, Algeria, and Morocco, and are very difficult to identify. He said there are also former foreign fighters coming back from the Middle East. In the last three years, however, he said, "someone in Bosnia has been asleep": laws haven't been changed, security agency budgets have stayed the same, and no new border police have been hired. He said there is a lack of about 1,200 border police, and currently each border police officer has to patrol a 25-kilometer stretch of land. He said the main problem, however, is that 93% of aid from some EU countries is given to humanitarian organizations, while only 7% goes to security agencies. 

Croatian Interior Minister Bozinovic said another aspect of the migratory crisis is the growth in organized crime that accompanies illegal immigration. He said Croatian police arrested 1,000 human traffickers in 2019, and 95 in the first month of 2020. "It's a sector of collaboration that we have to further strengthen," Bozinovic said. "We can't find ourselves in a situation in which the traffickers collaborate among themselves better than we do," he said. 

About 7,000 migrants in Bosnia, new arrivals expected 

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are currently between 6,500 and 7,000 migrants, said Slobodan Ujic, director of the country's National Service for Assistance to Foreigners, on February 1. He said 5,250 of these migrants are being hosted in reception centers located mainly in the country's northwest and around Sarajevo. Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz reported that Ujic said he expects more migrants to arrive in the country in the spring. The country received 57,000 refugees in 2018 and 2019. 

Ujic said migrants arriving from Greece are likely to further complicate the situation on the Balkan route. The most critical situations in Bosnia-Herzegovina are in the northwestern regions near the Croatian border, where the majority of migrants come in hopes of crossing the border into the EU to then continue their journeys towards countries in western Europe. 
 

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