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Human Rights Watch calls for urgent solution to Bosnia migrant crisis

Human Rights Watch on Thursday called on Bosnian authorities to take urgent action to protect hundreds of migrants staying in Bosnia and Herzegovina in inhumane conditions, and this appeal concerns first and foremost migrants staying around Bihać.

Zagreb, 21 January 2021 (Hina/MIA) – Human Rights Watch on Thursday called on Bosnian authorities to take urgent action to protect hundreds of migrants staying in Bosnia and Herzegovina in inhumane conditions, and this appeal concerns first and foremost migrants staying around Bihać.

“Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in northwest Bosnia are spending the winter in dire conditions because the authorities have repeatedly failed to address their basic needs,” said Lydia Gall, senior Europe researcher at HRW.

HRW says it is unacceptable for hundreds of migrants to stay in tents without medical care in winter conditions, and calls for taking urgent action to change that and provide migrants with adequate accommodation.

The criticism levelled at BiH authorities refers first and foremost to the situation in the Lipa temporary emergency camp near Bihać.

A reception centre had been established there, with a little over 1,000 migrants living in tents during the summer. It was shut down in December because the International Organization for Migration, which operated it, estimated that it could not provide safety in winter conditions as the tents could collapse under the weight of snow.

The BiH Council of Ministers adopted a formal decision designating the camp in the Lipa village as a permanent reception centre equipped with accommodation containers. However, implementing this plan will take at least three months and no alternative solution has been found for the accommodation of migrants in the meantime.

After 23 December, migrants stayed in the open, after which the army set up its heated tents. Water and power were also provided.

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