EUD/EUSR Statement: BiH authorities need to urgently address the migration issues

The EU Office calls upon all levels of government to urgently address the challenges that the migrant flow is posing to BiH. All authorities must step up their efforts and take responsibility.

The EU condemns the forcible transfer of hundreds of migrants to the improvised Vucjak shelter by the Una-Sana Canton police. We call upon the authorities in Bihac and Una-Sana Canton to immediately cease the forcible transfer of migrants to Vucjak. We have been clear in our discussions with all the relevant authorities that the Vucjak shelter must be closed. It is not only unsafe but also an undignified location.

The authorities of the Bihac City and the Una-Sana Canton have been shouldering this problem so far. They must not be left alone.

As winter is approaching, BiH authorities must not put in peril human lives. As an immediate priority, existing facilities should be expanded to offer dignified living conditions. Furthermore, suitable alternative facilities need to be identified by the BiH authorities now.

The EU is ready to deploy significant assistance for the development of those sites. Since 2018 the EU has provided €34 million. This support includes provision of shelter, food, water, sanitation, clothing, psychosocial assistance and access to education and health in five reception centres.

EU assistance is also strengthening migration management capacities through provision of the necessary equipment and assistance to the Una Sana Canton Police, the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, the BiH Border Police and the Sector for Asylum. It also helps the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the voluntary return of migrants to their countries of origin.

The EU will continue to support improving the capacity of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities for coping with the migration challenges but we also expect all the authorities in the country to work together in good faith to find ways for burden sharing.”