European official urges closure of Bosnian migrant camp

BIHAC, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (AP) — A top European human rights official yesterday demanded the immediate closure of a makeshift tent camp in northwestern Bosnia where hundreds of migrants remain stranded despite snow and freezing weather.

“It should be closed as we speak,” Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said while visiting the Vucjak camp near the town of Bihac. “This is not a place for human beings.”

The Vucjak camp has almost no facilities. International aid organisations have repeatedly warned it is unfit for migrants because it is located on a former landfill and close to a mine field from the 1992-95 war.

Already poor conditions in Vucjak have worsened further after snow fell on Monday. Several hundred migrants who were staying in the camp yesterday refused food and water to protest the situation.

Fazil Rahman, from Afghanistan, said migrants “don’t want the food”, they just want to be allowed to cross into neighbouring Croatia and move on toward Western Europe where they hope to start new lives.

“They don’t want it for lunch, they didn’t want it in the morning, they don’t want it at night-time,” Rahman said. “People are asking just one question: to cross the border.”

Migrants come into Bosnia from neighbouring Serbia or Montenegro. Most of them have flocked to the northwestern corner of the Balkan country which borders European Union (EU) member state Croatia.

Bosnian authorities have struggled to accommodate thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Government officials have said that a new facility for migrants near Sarajevo will not be ready for another 20 days.