EU reiterates that Vučijak in BiH is not a suitable location to host migrants

EU reiterates that Vučijak in BiH is not a suitable location to host migrants

EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities and experts held today a High-Level Meeting on Migration to discuss challenges of the increased presence of migrants and refugees poses to the country and to follow up to the priorities set in the Commission Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for EU membership.

The meeting took stock of the implementation of the significant assistance provided by the EU to Bosnia and Herzegovina to cope with the increased presence of migrants and refugees since the beginning of 2018, which amounts to €24 million. It also looked into the specific needs in view of the upcoming winter.

The Commission welcomes the commitment of Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to strengthen their coordination in managing migration. In this context, the Commission will provide a senior expert to support the relevant coordination structures.

The Commission notes with concern that existing reception capacities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are largely insufficient. The Commission regrets that Bosnia and Herzegovina has not proposed suitable locations for additional reception facilities, in spite of the Commission’s readiness to provide the necessary financial support. The Commission urges Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to identify suitable facilities with no further delay.

The Commission takes note of the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities’ commitment to ensure effective functioning of the existing temporary reception centres and urges Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to relocate without delay migrants and refugees from the unsuitable site of Vučjak.

The Commission stresses that dignity and safety of all persons, especially the most vulnerable, need to be ensured and protected and it reiterates its appreciation for the work of the humanitarian partners whose activities must be facilitated.

It is important to stress that police agencies in BiH signed the agreement on assistance and operational cooperation in border surveillance, following a long-term initiative aimed at a more efficient response to the burning problem of illegal migration with virtually exhausted material, technical and human capacities of BP BiH which has, with maximum engagement since 2017, intensified measures at the border of BiH.

Director of Border Police of BiH, Zoran Galić, signed the Agreements with Deputy Chief of Police of Brčko District of BiH, Sead Jašarević, Ministers of the internal affairs of: Canton 10 – Darinko Mihaljević, West Herzegovina Canton – Zdravko Boras, and Herzegovina-Neretva Canton – Slađan Bevanda, as well as with Posavina Canton MoI Commissioner – Marijan Mikić.

The agreements concretized the support of the ministries of the interior and the Brčko Police, in engagement of police officers who will carry out border surveillance in coordination with members of BP BiH, based on operational assessments and plans of the state-level police agency, in order to prevent illegal crossings of the border in vulnerable areas. The agreement with the Una-Sana Canton Ministry of the Interior will be signed later, due to the official absence of the Minister.

A working meeting was held in Sarajevo on the subject of modalities of a more efficient response to the problem of illegal migration, attended by representatives of the five police bodies, including Director of the Republic of Srpska Police, Darko Ćulum, who signed the Agreement on assistance and operational cooperation with Director Galić last year. Since then, officers have been involved, in accordance with capabilities of this MoI, in border surveillance in the eastern and northeastern part of the BiH border. All signed agreements provide for the formation and engagement of joint patrols in areas within the jurisdiction of the said police bodies, which will be guided by police officers of BP BiH units at the local

Nearly 36,000 refugees and migrants entered Bosnia and Herzegovina since January 2018, according to government estimates. Approximately 7,400 refugees and migrants in need of assistance are currently present in the country, mostly in the Una-Sana Canton. Approximately 4,100 are accommodated in EU-funded temporary reception centres.

Since 2007, the European Union has been providing assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina worth € 48.6 million in the area of migration and border management through the Instrument for pre-accession assistance. The country has also benefited from the IPA regional programme ‘Support to Protection-Sensitive Migration Management’ worth up to €14.5 million./ibna