A new reception centre in Lipa, catering to the needs of up to 1,500 stranded migrants, opened today in Una-Sana Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
The establishment of the new reception centre Lipa, financially supported by the European Union, will replace the former emergency tent shelter there which was destroyed by fire in December 2020, when about 1,400 migrants were left without shelter and protection.
At the opening of the reception centre Lipa, the Head of EU Delegation and EU Special Representative Ambassador Johann Sattler said: „Eleven months ago, we were standing here in the same location but in very different circumstances. Today, we are here in the middle of this state of the art migration reception centre. This Centre is proof that cooperation at all levels can work and can produce results. This is a good reminder for all of us that crises can be solved, and the only way to resolve crises is through dialogue and a willingness to compromise” and added “There are many challenges still ahead to achieve sustainable migration management in BiH, but we can say that Lipa is a success story of BiH. We have ensured that people who have travelled for months, some for years, are treated with respect”.
“The opening of this new Lipa centre is a critical step towards a more State-owned migration response,” said Laura Lungarotti, IOM’s Chief of Mission in BiH and Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Western Balkans.
“Today we are turning a tragedy into an opportunity. Offering humane accommodation is just one step within a wider migration governance strategy which will increasingly focus on the early identification and provision of sustainable solutions to all those who are stranded in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” she said at the official opening ceremony.
The new container-type facility provides humanitarian aid, including accommodation, food, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as protection services and medical care. It is run by the BiH Service for Foreigners’ Affairs under the Ministry of Security, with support from IOM, UN agencies and NGO partners.
The first snowfalls are expected in the area next week after a mild autumn, making the opening of the centre particularly timely for the single males, families, and unaccompanied children who will be spared another bitter winter sleeping rough.
One 22-year-old migrant from Pakistan said he has been in Bosnia for two months. “This new camp is good. We now have good food and the people working here are very kind,” he said.
The new Lipa reception facility was constructed from the ground up with the financial support of the European Union as the main contributor with 1.7 million euro, within the project “EU Support to Migration and Border Management in Bosnia and Herzegovina implemented by the IOM in partnership with UNHCR, UNICEF, UNFPA and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).
Additional support was provided by the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (Techniches Hilfswerk), the Austrian Federal Ministry of Interior, the Austrian Development Agency, the Swiss Government, the Holy See, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Council of Europe Development Bank.