Bosnia-Herzegovina has registered an increase of 600 to 700 percent in the number of undocumented migrants, according to the Security Minister. This is likely in part due to closure of the "Balkan route."
After the EU-Turkey deal and the closure of the "Balkan route," Bosnia Herzegovina has registered a spike in the number of undocumented migrants arriving from Turkey through Greece, Albania and Montenegro, up an estimated 600 to 700 percent, Security Minister Dragan Mektic was quoted as saying by Fena news agency on Wednesday.
The migrants take this new route to then reach Croatia and Western Europe, the minister told lawmakers.
The politician, who belongs to the right-wing SDS party, said that 400 migrants have crossed into Bosnia illegally since the start of this year, half of the total number reached in 2017. In 2016, there were fewer than 100 illegal migrants in the country, according to the minister. He added that, after the number of migrants dropped sharply that year following the EU-Turkey deal, 10,000 people were stranded in Serbia. A reported 3,000 have today remained while the others left.
Border police understaffed
Mektic said Bosnia's border police is understaffed and would need an additional 500 officers. Moreover, he said, Bosnian authorities were trying to deport illegal migrants but some countries failed to respect readmission agreements. Such countries, according to Mektiv, "don't carry out effective checks: people are turning the other way at those borders, knowing that migrants will go elsewhere."
Mektic believes that migrants don't go through any type of control, especially at the border between Albania and Montenegro and urged the international community to monitor this.
Although most migrants just travel through the country in their quest to get to Western Europe, some apply for asylum in Bosnia. According to UN agencies, 376 asylum requests were filed last year, but 43 percent of applicants left Bosnia before the end of the year.