3,000 migrants wander in Bosnia's freezing forests

IOM warns of 'humanitarian catastrophe'

28 December, 15:56

    (ANSAmed) - SARAJEVO, DECEMBER 28 - About 3,000 migrants wander in the open air, exposed to the freezing winter clime of northwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina, sleeping in the forests and makeshift shelters. Warning of a "humanitarian catastrophe" was Peter van der Auverart, head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) mission in the Balkan country. In statements to the Balkan AllNews broadcaster N1, the IOM official said that about a thousand refugees had been displaced from the Lipa camp near Bihac, devastated by a large fire set in recent days by migrants themselves after hearing the news that the tent encampment would be evacuated. In addition to them are 2,000 other refugees on the 'Balkan route', who have long been wandering in the area in the attempt to cross the nearby border with Croatia and continue their journey towards Western European countries. Van der Auverart warned that there is the danger of a "humanitarian catastrophe". He added that IOPM has the means to set up another refugee camp in the region. In recent days the decision had been made to close the Lipa camp to renovate it and adapt it to winter conditions to make it into a permanent migrant reception center. However, those staying in the camp set most of the camp tents on fire in protest. Their expected transfer to the other part of the camp in the the town of Bihac has not yet happened, however, due to staunch opposition from the local population, which has been protesting against the presence of migrants as they are seen to be the source of insecurity and violence. The IOM representative said that the situation is becoming critical and that action must be taken to prevent it from becoming a true humanitarian catastrophe. IOM reports that there are about 8,000 undocumented migrants in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the moment.

    (ANSA).

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