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

Bosnian authorities have asked local police to move about 250 migrants who were staying in an abandoned building near the city of Bihac and resettle them in the official Lipa camp nearby.

Almost 250 migrants were moved early this morning by local police forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina from the abandoned retirement home building where they had been squatting, to an official migrant camp, Lipa, about 20 kilometers outside the town of Bihac. That's according to the news portal Euractiv.

Euractiv said that several local media outlets had reported the "resettlement." They said that city utility teams moved into the squat soon after to clear it and erect a fence, to prevent anyone else from entering.

The mayor of Bihac, Suhret Fazlic, confirmed that operations would continue "over the next few days." Speaking to the Klix news website, he reportedly said, "there are still some other locations around town where migrants are staying […] there is sufficient room for them all at the Lipa camp."

Lined up outside and then bused to new camp

The news agency Associated Press (AP) also reported on the resettlement, saying a video depicted migrants being lined up outside the abandoned retirement home with their belongings. They were then taken by bus to the Lipa camp "while police stood guard nearby."

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, which last updated its figures at the end of March 2021, there were about 6,734 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Bosnia.

Media reports in recent months however suggest the numbers accessing Bosnia on the so-called Balkan route towards western Europe might be on the rise again; as the summer weather makes it easier for migrants to sleep outside before trying their luck to cross the border into Croatia and further north east into the EU bloc.

The majority of the migrants who arrive in Bosnia don't actually try and seek asylum in that country. In fact, according to government and UNHCR figures, as of March 31, 2021, only 1,061 people had actually sought asylum in Bosnia this year.

In 2020 across the whole year, UNHCR registered just over 16,000 migrants who transited or hoped to transit the country.


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