Bosnia decides to close Vucjak migrant camp

Unsustainable conditions. Refugees transferred to a barracks

06 December, 17:46

    (ANSAmed) - SARAJEVO, DECEMBER 6 - Bosnian authorities on Friday reached an agreement to transfer migrants who are currently living in inhumane conditions at the Vucjak camp in Bihac, which will be shut down in the coming days.

    Local media said the transfer of the refugees from Vucjak to a barracks in Blazuj, not far from Sarajevo, will begin on Monday, and by the end of next week Vucjak will be closed.

    The decision was made following a meeting on Friday between Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic and Mustafa Ruznic, the prime minister of Una-Sana Canton (northwest Bihac).

    The international community has recently on several occasions called for the closure of the camp, which is completely inadequate and lacks the most basic sanitary conditions.

    "We are working to set up the barracks in Blazuj as best as possible. It will be ready soon. By the end of next week the Vucjak camp will be closed," Mektic said.

    He said there is also a plan for transferring migrants out of Una-Sana Canton who are currently hosted at the reception centres in Miral (near Velika Kladusa) and Bira (near Bihac).

    Both towns are in northwest Bosnia-Herzegovina near the border with Croatia, a country that migrants want to enter in order to continue their journeys towards Western Europe.

    Mektic spoke of a project to create a large transit centre outside city centres.

    He said local municipal services will get rid of the makeshift tent camps once the migrants have been transferred, and the areas will be cleaned and reclaimed so that refugees no longer set up camps there.

    He said the migrants will be transferred against their will, given that at the moment they reside illegally in Bosnia-Herzegovina and they aren't allowed to decide on the place they stay or establish on their own the management of migrant flows in the country.

    The arrival of winter, with snow and intense cold, has further worsened conditions at makeshift refugee camps in Bosnia, particularly at Vucjak, which has become a true hell.

    For several days now, over 600 migrants at the camp have refused food and water offered by the Red Cross in a hunger strike to demand they be allowed to pass into Croatia.

    At night the temperature drops well below zero, and the majority of the refugees are without shoes or adequate clothing.

    Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic, who is of Bosnian origin, recently visited the camp.

    She said she was shocked to see the inhumane conditions in which the migrants at the camp were living, and she had been calling for its closure for some time.

    "I've never seen anything like it in my entire career," Mijatovic said.

    "I'm ashamed as a Bosnian-Herzegovinian," she said.(ANSAmed).

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