Migrants walk in smoke during a winter day at the Lipa refugee camp outside Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, January 1, 2021 | Photo: EPA/FEHIM DEMIR
Migrants walk in smoke during a winter day at the Lipa refugee camp outside Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, January 1, 2021 | Photo: EPA/FEHIM DEMIR

The Council of Europe Special Representative for Migration and Refugees, Drahoslav Stefanek, on Monday visited Bihac in northwest Bosnia-Herzegovina, which hosts numerous migrants who are living outside or in makeshift tent camps.

The Council of Europe Special Representative for Migration and Refugees, Drahoslav Stefanek, on Monday (January 25) visited Bihac, the capital of the Una-Sana Canton in northwest Bosnia-Herzegovina, which hosts numerous migrants who live outside or in makeshift tent camps.

According to Sej Ramic, a former city councillor who was present at the visit, Stefanek tried unsuccessfully to convince local authorities and the citizens of Bihac of the need to temporarily reopen the Bira reception camp until the Lipa camp is completed.

Hundreds of migrants are staying in heated tents at the Lipa camp, set up by the Bosnian armed forces.

Bihac citizens against reopening

Bira camp Authorities and citizens in Bihac see the reopening of Bira, located in the town center and closed by local authorities last September, as unthinkable after three years of thefts, aggression, intimidation and violence by migrants.

Ramic said that if necessary, citizens will organize themselves to even physically impede a return of migrants to Bira. Stefanek will also visit other centers in the canton, Sedra and Borici, which host mainly migrant families and do not represent a security threat.

Visit to Sarajevo

After the visit to the centre in nearby Velika Kladusa, Stefanek's itinerary includes a visit to Sarajevo. Near the Bosnian capital there are two camps where last week there were serious incidents and heavy clashes with police that involved about 2,000 people.

According to estimates by Bosnian police, there are about 7,000 migrants in the country, of whom several hundreds who didn't find a place in the reception centres are currently sleeping outside, exposed to the ice, snow, and rain.

 

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