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23:19, 25 May 2018 Friday
11:17, 17 May 2018 Thursday

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Bosnia helpless as migrants open new Balkan route
Bosnia helpless as migrants open new Balkan route

In the tourist centre of Sarajevo, a park in front of the national library has been turned into a makeshift camp with several dozen tents.

World Bulletin / News Desk

A growing number of migrants are carving a new Balkan route through Bosnia to reach the European Union raising fears of a humanitarian and security crisis in the impoverished country.

Near the border with EU member Croatia, in the northwestern town of Bihac, migrants are squatting in a ruined university campus.

In Velika Kladusa, 40 kilometres (25 miles) further north, another improvised camp has been set up in a park.

Such places lack water and electricity, but many young men and also families with children, bed down there for several nights before trying to cross illegally into Croatia.

Many evidently succeed, with Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic noting that out of 4,000 migrants who entered the country this year only one third remain.

The numbers are by no means comparable with the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the so-called Balkans route in 2015, before it was closed in March 2016. But that route avoided Bosnia's mountainous terrain.

But as summer approaches, Bosnia has increasingly become a stopover this year.

Some 1,200 migrants and refugees arrived in the past three weeks, according to Peter Van Der Auweraert, head of the international Organisation for Migrations (IOM) Bosnia mission.

Security minister Mektic reported between 80 and 150 daily entries in May.

The situation seems to have caught the authorities unprepared.

In Sarajevo, the arrivals are fed by volunteers and ordinary citizens.

The state "does not provide any supplies to them, neither food, nor medicaments, absolutely nothing," said Denisa Steffen, a Bosnian volunteer in her 40s.

"Failing to quickly accommodate these people, we risk creating a small humanitarian crisis in places where the migrants and the refugees are," said Van Der Auweraert.



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