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Commissioner calls for urgent relocation of migrants from Vučjak in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Statement
Strasbourg 17/10/2019
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Commissioner calls for urgent relocation of migrants from Vučjak in Bosnia and Herzegovina

“I am following with great concern the developments in the city of Bihać in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the authorities are continuing to place migrants in the already overpopulated improvised camp in Vučjak.

The living conditions in this camp, which is close to land-minded areas, are already deplorable, without running water or electricity, and poor sanitary conditions. With winter coming, the situation cannot but worsen.

To avert a humanitarian and public health crisis in Vučjak, I urge the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to relocate as a matter of urgency all the migrants currently in Vučjak to facilities with adequate standards in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Republika Srpska. The Vučjak camp should not have been opened in the first place, and must now be closed. I also urge the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to uphold their responsibilities to handle migration in a human rights compliant way and provide the necessary help to local authorities who have been dealing with this issue by themselves for so long.

The situation indeed is not new. It has been almost a year and a half since I sent a letter to the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina in which I urged them to spare no effort in order to improve their handling of migrant arrivals. At the time, there were about 300 migrants in Bihać and Velika Kladuša. Today, the estimated number is between 4000 and 6000.

I call on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to address this issue in close co-operation with international organisations and NGOs working in the field of migration. It is high time that the authorities treat migrants with humanity and according to human rights standards.”