A growing number of migrants are entering Bosnia from Serbia and Montenegro en route to western Europe. The majority are Syrians, Afghanis and Algerians, according to immigration office staff.
The number of migrants entering Bosnia from Serbia and Montenegro is growing rapidly: 458 have entered the country since the start of the year, compared to 754 in the whole of 2017, Bosnian border police have said. According to immigration office staff, the migrants stop in Bosnia for two to three nights before continuing their journey towards western Europe.
Some have already tried to enter the EU from Serbia into Hungary but were forced to turn back, and are now making a fresh attempt from Montenegro into Bosnia and then on into Croatia.
Violence at the Croatian border
The large majority of migrants come from Syria, Afghanistan and Algeria. Recently groups were reported to be sleeping rough in Ilidza in southern Sarajevo with support from the NGO 'Pomozi.ba'. Other groups have also been reported in Velika Kladusa, Bihac, Trebinje, Zvornik, Bijeljina and in other parts of Bosnia, where local residents have offered assistance and shelter in their own homes. "They are victim of violence on the Croatian border and several men have been beaten," said one of the 'Pomozi.ba' volunteers.
"For this reason, they changed route: their only option was through Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia."
A new Balkan route
A few days ago Croatian media reported the emergence of a new 'Balkan route' used predominantly by people from the Middle East in their attempt to find a better life in western Europe. Zagreb newspaper Jutarnji list reported that since the closure of the traditional route through Macedonia and Serbia migrants are now traveling from Greece through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia.
"Though little is still said about this route, it is increasingly used by migrants and is at the same time seeing a growing number of victims," the newspaper said. Once in Bosnia Herzegovina the migrants use buses, taxis and other means to reach Velika Kladusa on the border with Croatia, from where they cross to Karlovac before crossing the Kupa river into Slovenia. Most of the migrants using this route are Afghans, Pakistanis and Syrians, but there are also north Africans from Algeria and Morocco.