Migrants in a park in Sarajevo, Bosnia | Credit: EPA/ Fehim Demir
Migrants in a park in Sarajevo, Bosnia | Credit: EPA/ Fehim Demir

The government of Bosnia-Herzegovina reports that some 5,116 irregular migrants have arrived in the country, over 4,500 of whom have said that they want to request asylum. The number of Iranian migrants in the country is rising.

Bosnian Minister for Security, Dragan Mektic, has said that some 5,116 irregular migrants have entered the country since the beginning of the year, 4,526 of whom have said that they want to request asylum. Only 475 of them have done so yet. In the same period, 3,300 migrants were caught at the border and sent back to the countries they were trying to cross from. 

There is a growing number of Iranian migrants in Bosnia, Mektic said, noting that the cause of the higher flows was the recent lifting of visa requirements for Iranians by Serbia, where they arrive legally and then cross illegally in Bosnia. He added that Pakistanis were the largest group arriving in the country, followed by Syrians and Iranians. 

Reports of a 'secret plan' to encourage arrivals 

While the official figures show that just over 5,000 irregular migrants entered Bosnia in 2018, some politicians, the minister noted, claim that tens of thousands of migrants have actually come to the country this year. In Republika Srpska (RS, the Serb-majority part of Bosnia), there is speculation about a "secret plan" to populate the RS with migrants, thereby changing the ethnic balance, said RS president Milorad Dodik.

Mektic scoffed at the suggestion, saying that "we haven't granted even one person asylum, which the migrants are requesting simply to get legal residence. However, they do not want to stay here and 70 percent have already left Bosnia"

Van carrying migrants shot at in Croatia 

On May 31, Croatian police shot at a van carrying irregular migrants in the attempt to stop it. Two children were injured. Local media reported that the incident occurred near the Donji Srb village on the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

After several attempts to get the driver to stop using flashing lights and sirens, policemen shot at the van and the driver stopped the vehicle, jumped out and fled. Some 29 irregular migrants from different countries were inside the van. They had entered Croatia from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Among them were two children who were injured in the incident and who were taken to a hospital in Zara. Both are in a stable condition. An increasing number of migrants are using the Balkan route through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia to get to Western Europe. 

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