Migrants in the Lipa camp in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina | Photo: Archive / EPA / FEHIM DEMIR
Migrants in the Lipa camp in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina | Photo: Archive / EPA / FEHIM DEMIR

The Council of Europe's representative on migration and refugees, Drahoslav Stefanec, has urged Bosnia to draft and implement a policy capable of structuring and coordinating the country's institutional response to migration flows, after a visit to the country.

Bosnia must draft and implement a national policy in order to provide structure and coordination to the country's response to migration flows. This was the main recommendation of a report drafted by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Drahoslav Stefanek, who visited the country at the beginning of the year, according to a statement released on July 8.

International community must support Bosnia

According to Stefanek, the international community, and the Council of Europe (CoE), must support Bosnia's efforts in this sense. The country needs help to create organizations of consultation between authorities at a central and local level.

Stefanek said that, at the time of his fact-finding mission on January 24-30 this year, relationships were very complicated for various regions. The special representative also recommended that the Council of Europe's Development Bank respond positively to the Bosnian authorities' request, providing financial aid for services that are necessary for immigrants -- including housing and meals -- especially in Una-Sana canton.

Finally, Bosnia must be supported in building up expertise to manage camps hosting migrants and refugees, to process procedures regarding asylum applications and to protect unaccompanied minors.

A sustainable solution for Bihac

The special representative said that, at the time of his visit, "the conditions in Lipa emergency military tent camp were harsh and dire, in addition to the heavy snowfall," according to the statement.

"The camp hosted around 1,000 single males, who were living in large military tents heated by air cannons, operated by electricity generators. However, the basic needs of residents were secured. The authorities did their best in the dramatic circumstances and luckily no casualties, nor serious health harm cases were recorded. To prevent the repetition of this winter's crisis, the establishment of a solid foundation for a sustainable solution in the Bihac area is essential," said Stefanek.

 

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