Migrants resting in the open at the former military barracks in Blazuj, a suburb of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/FEHIM DEMIR
Migrants resting in the open at the former military barracks in Blazuj, a suburb of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/FEHIM DEMIR

Bosnian police on January 23 arrested 17 migrants accused of organizing violent protests in the hosting center of Blazuj, near Sarajevo, where incidents and clashes with police were recorded last week.

Bosnian police on January 23 arrested 17 migrants accused of being behind violent protests in the hosting center of Blazuj, near Sarajevo, where incidents and clashes with police were reported last week.

According to local media reports, the migrants arrested were identified and accused of inciting violence in which two police officers were wounded, along with an official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Several police cars were also damaged, the reports said.

The hosting center, which is currently hosting over 3,000 migrants from the Balkan route, was also seriously damaged.

The 17 migrants were reportedly expelled to their home countries.

Religious, ethnic tension behind clashes

The clashes over the past few days, which involved some 2,000 people, were reportedly sparked by a quarrel between two migrants based on religion and ethnicity.

Sarajevo daily Dnevi Avaz on January 23 reported that the Bosnian population was increasingly alarmed for its security and wary of migrants, claiming that groups of citizens were organizing night patrols because they couldn't tolerate anymore thefts, aggressions, intimidations and violence by migrants, the newspaper said.

The majority of migrants in the area are refusing to stay at hosting centers and prefer to be free so they can attempt to cross the border with Croatia.

'Incidents caused by overcrowding'

Admir Katica, the Interior minister of the Canton of Sarajevo, said on Friday that migrants in Bosnia-Herzegovina should be distributed across the entire national territory and should not be housed in a few overcrowded facilities.

Katica made the statement after violent clashes were reported last week in the center of Blazuj near Sarajevo. Katica was quoted by regional media as saying that periodical accidents are caused by the excessive number of migrants in hosting centers.

According to the minister, Bosnian federal authorities are not managing in an effective way the migrant crisis in the country, placing refugees only in centers located in the Canton of Sarajevo and in Una-Sana, in the north-east, at the border with Croatia.

Here, refugees are in particular concentrated around Bihac and Velika Kladusa, an area right next to the border which migrants are constantly trying to cross to continue their journey towards western Europe.

Katica concluded that if hosting centers in Bosnia-Herzegovina hosted 200 migrants instead of the 3,500 staying in Blazuj, for example, there would probably be fewer incidents and security concerns.

 

More articles