Οn Monday afternoon, EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell had a phone conversation with Milorad Dodik, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regarding the dire humanitarian conditions of hundreds of migrants who are in the country, the EU announced.
The country’s authorities were repeatedly urged by the EU to quickly scale up their actions to address the grave humanitarian situation in Una-Sana Canton and provide basic and secure living conditions to all persons of concern still sleeping out in the cold in extreme conditions.
“High Representative Borrell reminded President Dodik of the EU’s full commitment to supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina, having provided financial support of more than €88 million, and – among other assistance – fully equipping the Bira Reception Centre, which is left unused. He called on the BiH authorities to work on sustainable solutions, notably with the opening of centres more evenly distributed across the full territory of the country,” reads the press release.
Called @MiloradDodikRS today to reiterate EU’s call on #BiH authorities: People cannot be left dying in the snow, with fully equipped, EU-financed facilities available. Humanitarian assistance should always stand above political leaders’ differences and unite rather divide. https://t.co/TO2q1BjDk8
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) January 11, 2021
Josep Borrell stressed that failing to do so would have severe consequences for the reputation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “The EU counts on those in office in the country to take full responsibility, urgent action and do what it takes to provide immediate assistance and work on longer-term solutions”.
Just few hours after this conversation, Head of the EU Delegation to BiH Johann Sattler confirmed this was serious warning and the Union would not just stand and stare . In his interview with N1 TV, Sattler said that “some positive steps forward have been made regarding the migrant crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina and tents for migrants have been set up at the Lipa village.” Sattler said the responsibility cannot rest only on the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also on political leaders.
“We cannot allow this situation repeating itself every year. Last year it was Vučijak (the infamous camp that shut down), this year it was Lipa. We want to avoid such reputation risk for BiH,” Sattler said.
The Head of the EU Delegation to BiH also said he “does not want to ignore the security concerns of the local population in the north-western Una-Sana Canton”, adding that he could understand the locals, but that closing down the Bira camp did not help as hundreds of migrants were left in the open.
“We are trying to exert pressure on everyone. We repeat that all parts of the country should bear a part of the burden, including Republika Srpska and Herzegovina,” he underlined. /ibna