Migrants from Bosnia camp kept in buses as relocation halted

BIHAC, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (AP) — Hundreds of migrants from a burned-out tent camp in northwest Bosnia yesterday remained packed in buses where they had spent the night after an attempt to relocate them failed, reflecting confusion in the Balkan country’s handling of the crisis.

Bosnian authorities sent buses on Tuesday to transfer the migrants from the much-criticised Lipa camp to an army barracks in central Bosnia. The mass move was cancelled after local residents organised protests to prevent the relocation. Yesterday morning and later in the day, migrants were still inside the buses, local media reported.

The Lipa camp near Bosnia’s border with Croatia was demolished in a fire last week and lacked basic facilities such as running water or heating. Some 1,000 migrants were stranded there for days during a spate of snowy and windy winter weather that followed the fire.

The situation has prompted EU officials and aid groups to warn of a looming humanitarian disaster and increased pressure on Bosnia to act to move the migrants away from the camp.

The troubled Balkan country that went through a devastating war in the 1990s has been struggling with the influx of thousands of people seeking to reach Western Europe. Bickering among Bosnia’s ethnically divided authorities has prevented an organised response to the crisis, leaving some 3,000 migrants sleeping rough or in makeshift tents.

Police officers stand by migrants as they leave to be relocated from the Lipa camp northwestern Bosnia. PHOTO: AP