From: Alice Taylor
Caritas: Humanitarian Crisis with Migrants Looming in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Catholic charity Caritas has warned of a looming humanitarian crisis for migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Italian branch of the organisation has sounded the alarm over the risk to hundreds of mmigrans and refugees who they say will be at the mercy of worsening weather conditions in inadequate shelters in the Western Balkan country.

Caritas said that the situation is already precarious following a camp burning down on 23 December. Freezing winter weather conditions could lead to serious consequences for almost 1000 migrants that were staying there. They reported they have no access to running water or heating and that facilities lack the minimum facilities for dignified survival.

The migrants are mainly those who are fleeing violence in Syria and Afghanistan and who have followed the Balkan Route in the hopes of reaching an EU member state.

A lack of political consensus in the country as well as protests from residents, has resulted in the continued displacement of the migrants. Some are being ferried back and forth to the place where the Lipa camp once stood where they are being housed in tents. This means that they are sleeping directly on the icy ground without flooring or bedding.

The European Commission and humanitarian agencies are calling on authorities to urgently take an institutional initiative and provide adequate reception facilities to those who are risking their health and their lives. 

The EU Commission denounced the situation saying the migrants “are being used as internal political pawns.”

Caritas said that attention must be diverted to other parts of the Balkan Route to help alleviate the problem. The route starts in Greece and ends in Italy, Austria, and in some cases, Hungary.

In 2020, Albanian police made many arrests of people transporting third-country nationals from Greece, through Albania with the goal of them reaching an EU Member State. Exit spoke to one of those involved in the trafficking who explained that the arrests were just the tip of the iceberg and many were managing to pass through the country, even, alleged with the help of some police.