Migrants in Lipa camp in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on February 18, 2021 | Photo: EPA/Fehim Demir
Migrants in Lipa camp in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on February 18, 2021 | Photo: EPA/Fehim Demir

In northwestern Bosnia, dozens of migrants and refugees at two reception centers have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to local authorities. Meanwhile, Catholic charity Caritas denounced an alleged outbreak at the Lipa migrant camp.

Fifty migrants and refugees who tested positive for coronavirus were isolated in hosting centers of the Una-Sana canton, in northwestern Bosnia Herzegovina, local authorities said on Tuesday, March 23.

At the Borici center in the town of Bihac, 45 residents were quarantined, as well as 12 employees of international organizations and security agencies, according to Una-Sana's minister of the local crisis unit, Mermina Cemalovic. The minister stressed that health checkups were being carried out daily and rigorously.

Another five people tested positive at the Miral center in the nearby town of Velika Kladusa. They are in isolation and being cared for adequately, Cemalovic said.

Coronavirus cases at Lipa camp?

Local government authorities did not report any new cases in Lipa camp. However, according to Catholic charity Caritas, the camp recently saw two outbreaks.

Caritas official Daniele Bombardi said during a webinar held via Zoom on Wednesday that "the camp has been isolated again for the past two days after two outbreaks were reported." He added that a number of migrants at the camp are "living in isolation, some for scabies, others for COVID." According to Bombardi, "the situation remains very fragile."

Living conditions at Lipa camp in northwestern Bosnia have repeatedly been criticized by migrants, migrant rights activists and EU officials. In an open letter to EU parliamentarians, a resident of the camp recently wrote "we have no dignity here." He said that "there are only a dozen chemical toilets for over a thousand people. There is no running water for drinking. We often run out of water."

Migrants stuck in Bosnia

Thousands of migrants and refugees -- mostly from Asia -- are currently living in Bosnia. Most see the Balkan state only as a transit country -- they are hoping to eventually reach Western Europe. But irregularly crossing the border into EU member state Croatia is extremely difficult. Border patrols have been repeatedly accused of carrying out violent pushbacks, though Croatia denies any illegal actions by its authorities.


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