Migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria have set up camp in a park in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Credit EPA/FEHIM DEMIR
Migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria have set up camp in a park in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Credit EPA/FEHIM DEMIR

The Bosnian government has announced a more hardline policy to halt illegal migrant flows into the country by strengthening border surveillance. The Council of Europe commissioner criticizes obstacles to access asylum procedures and a lack of assistance.

Bosnia will ''stop the flow of illegal migrants in every part of its territory that is not an official border crossing'', Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said. 

Last week, Zvizdic noted that his government had adopted several emergency measures to curb the migration phenomenon, including strengthening border police units with men belonging to other security agencies. Zvizdic added that a statement would be sent to Serbia and Montenegro, countries from which most clandestine migration arrives in the country. 

The strengthening of Bosnian borders is the main aim of the authorities, Minister for Security Dragan Mektic said, announcing the ''end of shantytowns'' in Sarajevo's historic center. 

After living in makeshift tents and extremely poor conditions from a hygienic point of view, about 600 migrants will be transferred and registered at the Salakovac reception center, about 30 kilometers north of Mostar. 

Camp dismantled in north-west 

Meanwhile, in the far northwestern part of Bosnia, in Velika Kladusa, not far from the border with Croatia, a shantytown in the city center was dismantled and about 120 migrants were transferred on Friday morning to nearby Trnovi, where a local campground has drinking water, electricity and toilet facilities. An estimated 600-700 other migrants in the area are expected to arrive in Trnovi of their own initiative. Mektic said that ''we will not allow them to decide where and how to stay. Neither parks nor squares or streets will be possibilities.'' 

The healthcare ministry said that about 4,500 undocumented migrants had entered the country in the first four months of the year, 70 percent of whom have already left the country. 

Council of Europe commissioner sends letter to government 

In a letter addressed to the human rights and security ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović called on the authorities of the Balkan country to spare no efforts to improve the management of migrant arrivals in the country. Mijatović underscored that, according to reports received, many potential asylum seekers face obstacles in accessing asylum procedures'' in the country. 

The commissioner also said that she was ''concerned to learn that many refugees and migrants, including families with children, sleep rough on the streets and have irregular access to food''. She said that the problem seemed due to the lack of a systematic response by the authorities to the humanitarian needs of the migrants. The commissioner wrote in the letter to the Bosnian government that the authorities must accept their responsibility and meet their obligations in an effective and systematic manner on the issue of assisting refugees and migrants.

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