Two police officers and an IOM employee suffered minor injuries in clashes at the Blazuj migrant reception center near Sarajevo on Wednesday, police said. More than 3,000 migrants are currently housed at the former military barracks.
Police were called late Wednesday night to intervene in a fight that had broken out between migrants at the center outside Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
"During the intervention, migrants attacked police officers and damaged several police and International Organization for Migration (IOM) cars, as well as IOM offices," police spokesperson Mirza Hadziabdic told the news agency AFP.
Hadziabdic confirmed that two police officers and an IOM employee were slightly injured, and that the property damaged in the clash included computers and other equipment.
According to a statement by the IOM, "a skirmish between two migrants … quickly escalated into a bigger fight." It was not immediately clear if anyone was arrested, AP reports.
In Bosnian media, the incident was described as a major clash. The news platform Klix.ba published images of smashed cars and reported that police brought in members of special units with dogs. According to Klix.ba, around 2,000 migrants clashed with police and threw stones.
Klix.ba reported on Friday that six persons involved in the scuffles had received deportation orders from the foreigners’ office and local authorities in the Sarajevo Canton. One Iranian national reportedly also received an an entry ban of three years and is due to be deported.
Tense situation for migrants in Bosnia
Bosnia is a transit country for migrants, mainly from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, who travel along the Balkan route in hopes of reaching Western Europe. Many however remain stranded in Bosnia and fail to cross into EU member state Croatia -- their attempts are thwarted by Croatian border police who are regularly accused of applying force to push migrants back into Bosnia.
Bosnia has struggled to manage a growing number of migrant arrivals since 2018 and most recently, the EU called upon Bosnia to provide adequate housing for migrants who are stranded in the country and face harsh winter conditions.
According to estimates from EU and IOM officials, there are currently between 8,000 and 9,000 migrants in Bosnia.
Around 6,000 migrants are living in five centers run by the IOM.
Roughly 2,000 migrants are camping out in the woods and in abandoned buildings in northwestern Bosnia, and their situation is becoming increasingly dangerous.
With AP, AFP