After criticism, Bosnia sets up tents for freezing migrants

BIHAC, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (AP) – Trying to resolve a humanitarian disaster, the Bosnian military set up tents on Friday for hundreds of migrants who have been stuck in a burned-out refugee camp that has no facilities to fend off freezing winter weather.

Bosnia has faced international criticism for leaving some 1,000 migrants without shelter after a fire engulfed the squalid Lipa refugee camp near its northwest border with Croatia over a week ago.

The armed forces said on Friday that about 150 soldiers had arrived to put up tents for the migrants, which will be run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Earlier on Friday, the migrants held a protest to highlight the horrendous conditions they are facing in Bosnia. Aid groups said hundreds of migrants rejected food and held up banners calling for international help.

The authorities announced earlier this week that they would move the migrants from Lipa to a former army compound in central Bosnia but plan was rejected after local residents organised protests.

The migrants spent 24 hours in a convoy of buses, waiting to move, but ended up back in the burned-out Lipa camp instead. For the past two nights, they have lit fires to warm up at the muddy camp site.

Bosnia has struggled with the influx of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in their countries in the Mideast, Africa and Asia.

Migrants mostly flock to Bosnia’s northwestern corner, which borders European Union (EU) member Croatia, from where they hope to move toward wealthier European countries. But many have reported violent pushbacks by Croatian border forces as well as hostility from Bosnian residents.

Migrants walk back to the Lipa camp outside Bihac after hundreds failed to be relocated from the burnt-out tent camp in the northwest of the country. PHOTO: AP