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EU commissioner visits Bosnian migrant camp

AP, 19 Feb 2021
The European Commissioner for Home Affairs spent Thursday in a refugee camp in Lipa, Bosnia, as part of her visit to discuss migration management with the country's top officials.

Ylva Johansson is expected to hold talks with government officials in Sarajevo on Friday to see where further improvements can be made on migration management and setting up "a proper governance".

The living conditions of migrants stuck in Bosnia have somewhat improved after the country's military erected tents and allowed several humanitarian organisations to regularly distribute supplies.

But in the makeshift camp of Lipa, near Bosnia's northwest border with EU-member Croatia, the lack of running water and adequate medical care has lead to cases of scabies and other sanitation-linked illnesses.

The camp was gutted by a fire last December leaving around 1,000 people without shelter, while local authorities around Bosnia refused to provide them with alternative accommodation.

For weeks after the fire, migrants in Lipa were left to fend for themselves despite the freezing weather, prompting the European Union to sharply criticise Bosnia's neglect.

Under pressure, Bosnian authorities sent in the military to erect heated tents in which hundreds of migrants are now crammed.

Migrants come to Bosnia with the aim of reaching Croatia before moving on into Western Europe.

Many have complained about violence at the hands of Croatian police, and being pushed back at the border, which is illegal under international refugee law.

Bosnia has been widely criticised in recent years for mishandling the arrival of thousands of people, many fleeing war and poverty.

The politically unstable and impoverished Balkan country is still recovering from its own war in the 1990s.

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