Several hundred of migrants from the Middle East countries had been sleeping almost for a month in a tent settlement in the city centre of the BiH capital Sarajevo, but the attempt to transfer them to the Immigrant centre in Salakovac, near Mostar, on Friday morning was a debacle. The convoy of buses was stopped because of the political dispute between police agencies in BiH and the ‘crisis’ was resolved after more than five hours of tensions.
BiH state level institutions tried to remove migrants from the park in Sarajevo to the special centre where they can have decent conditions of living, before their status issue is resolved. In the park, they had not proper medical care, food or decent accommodation. The BiH Council of Ministers after a suggestion by the BiH Ministry of Security decided on their reansfer to Salakovac Centre.
In the first few hours of the operation, everything was regular and without disruptions. Migrants got on the buses, volunteers began to clean park and the Salakovac Centre staff was ready to welcome them. When the convoy of buses with migrants reached the point between Kanton Sarajevo and Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNC), a line of police prevented them to continue.
Just a few hours before the arrival of migrants on the border between the two cantons, HNC Police Chief, Ilija Lasić had issued an order saying that the buses with migrants could not enter the territory of this Canton. As he said later to the media, the reason was that BiH joint institutions did not inform the HNC government or Ministry of Interior about the intention to bring a large number of foreign citizens to the Salakovac Immigration Centre.
Right there and then, the migrants in BiH stopped being a humanitarian issue as it was turned into pure politics.
The Sarajevo Canton Ministry of Interior spokesperson, Suvada Kuldija, stated that the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Interior Ministry was informed of the Operational Plan for the movement of refugees.
“We informed their operative centre at 06:40 in the morning that we are conducting these activities. When the migrants boarded the buses and when they left the park area, we informed their operative centre once again. When we entered the area of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, they were aware of the plan”, Kuldija said.
The director of the Foreigners’ Affairs Service of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slobodan Ujić, told reporters that he was stunned by the HNC police decision to stop the migrant buses in Konjic and that he has no idea why anyone would make such a decision.
“We were prepared for this operation together with the Interior Ministry of the Sarajevo Canton for the past two days. Every bit was thought of down to the last detail. I am really shocked”, Ujuć told the press.
BiH Security Minister, Dragan Mektić, said that the decision of the HNC Interior Ministry is a “sort of a coup”.
“For a police commissioner to make a decision that prevents state institutions from implementing their constitutional duties is a sort of a serious coup, in my opinion. This is a blow to the constitutional order of the State”, Mektić said.
He added that he ordered the State Investigation and Protection Agency to inform the state Prosecution Office about this event, demanding the arrest of all persons “who prevented the state institutions from doing their job”.
At the end, migrants arrived in Salakovac where they will enjoy better conditions. After what happened, probably some of them who intended to remain in BiH, have decided to continue their ‘journey’. At least until they find a normal country…. / IBNA