The German Red Cross has announced a new emergency aid project to support migrants and refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hundreds of migrants continue to transit the country en route to the European Union.
Migrants in Bosnia need special support, as coronavirus restrictions and border closures have left more people without proper shelter or care, according to the German Red Cross (DRK).
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some migrants traveling through Bosnia stayed for just a few days before continuing their journeys towards Europe. But mobility restrictions imposed to contain the virus have changed that, said Christian Reuter, DRK Secretary General.
In addition, the partial closure of temporary reception centers in the Balkan country has forced even more refugees to seek shelter in abandoned factory buildings, vacant houses or makeshift tent settlements, Reuter said in a statement published on the DRK website.
In January this year it was estimated that among the vulnerable migrants in Bosnia, about 1,000 were under 18, and around 500 were unaccompanied by an adult. The majority are from Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan.
"These people need special support, which we as the German Red Cross are providing together with our sister organization on the ground," Reuter said.
Cooperation with local Red Cross
In the canton of Una Sana in northwestern Bosnia, the local Red Cross is one of the main coordinators of aid for refugees. The DRK plans to support Bosnian mobile relief teams to offer care to migrants who are staying outside camps and reception centers. Urgently needed food and hygiene items will be distributed to about 3,000 people, the DRK said.
Information materials about protection against COVID-19 and important hygiene measures are also being supplied.
As of April 14, 2021, the UN Migration Agency IOM recorded 4,424 irregular migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina.