Bosnia Shifts Vulnerable Migrants and Refugees to New Temporary Camp

The authorities in the Una-Sana Canton, in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration, moved a first group of about 120 migrants and refugees to the new reception centre in Lipa, not far from the town of Bihac, on Tuesday.

In total, about 1,000 people who have been living on the streets of Bihac and nearby towns in the recent weeks because there is not enough space at existing reception centres will be relocated to the Lipa camp.

In mid-March, the Bosnian authorities imposed restrictions on the movement of migrants and refugees and ordered them into temporary reception centres as a part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"Camp Lipa contains all the infrastructure needed to provide basic humanitarian needs to the users in the form of accommodation, food, hygiene, sanitation and medical care," the Una-Sana cantonal government said in a press statement.

The mayor of Bihac, Suhret Fazlic, told Bosnian media that moving these people to the new centre will allow their health and safety to be better monitored.

According to police estimates, there are currently approximately 1,500 migrants in the Bihac area for whom there are no places in existing reception centres.

Representatives of Serbs who returned to Bosnia's Federation entity after fleeing during the war strongly opposed the construction of the camp near Lipa, a village where post-war Serb returnees live, because they claimed that the mainly Muslim migrants and refugees could be a threat to them.

They argued that the construction of a migrant centre in near Lipa was a message to Serbs that they are not welcome in Bosnia's Bosniak- and Croat-dominated Federation entity.

They have threatened to block all access roads to the centre...

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