Bosnia and Herzegovina: Authorities create gratuitous suffering for hundreds left without shelter

Responding to the forcible removal by the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina of hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers from an official accommodation centre, which has left almost 400 people without shelter and basic support, Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher Jelena Sesar said:

“The Bosnian authorities’ decision, which has left hundreds of people to roam the streets and forests looking for shelter whilst a fully equipped centre sits empty, defies belief.

The Bosnian authorities’ decision, which has left hundreds of people to roam the streets and forests looking for shelter whilst a fully equipped centre sits empty, defies belief
Jelena Sesar, Amnesty International

“As temperatures drop, the authorities should be taking steps to ensure refugees and migrants are able to cope this winter, rather than playing politics with their lives. To do so is not only inhumane, but could have catastrophic consequences.

“The European Commission must work with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to urgently find a solution to accommodate and provide humanitarian relief to people who are stranded in the country.

As temperatures drop, the authorities should be taking steps to ensure refugees and migrants are able to cope this winter, rather than playing politics with their lives
Jelena Sesar, Amnesty International

European leaders cannot call for ‘No more Morias’, whilst at the same time ignoring the plight of desperate people sleeping under open skies cut off from water, food and medical support on the EU’s doorstep.”

Background

Bosnian special police emptied the camp late on Wednesday and bussed residents to the outskirts of Una-Sana Canton, abandoning them there to fend for themselves. While some people managed to find accommodation in Lipa, a dangerously overcrowded and inadequate facility nearby, others were left to face near freezing temperatures outdoors. There are already close to 3,000 migrants and asylum-seekers who are sleeping rough in the area.

Around 10,000 migrants and asylum-seekers are currently stranded in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the vast majority in Una-Sana Canton. While most are housed in UN-operated centres, around 3,000 are forced to sleep outside in squats, abandoned buildings and streets.

 

In September, the authorities ordered the closure of two large camps operated by International Organization for Migration (IOM) and passed sweeping measures that included the complete prohibition of new arrivals into the Canton. In addition, migrants and asylum-seekers are banned from using public transport and taxis, they are also banned from gathering in public places and it is now prohibited to provide them with private accommodation.

 

For more information or to arrange an interview contact: Stefan Simanowitz stefan.simanowitz@amnesty.org / +447936766445 or +44 2030365599