“Consequences” for Bosnia of the freeze on migrants: an EU official

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Brussels (AFP)

Bosnia risks “serious consequences” to its reputation if urgent aid is not given to 1,700 migrants left homeless for more than three weeks, the EU’s foreign policy chief warned on Monday.

The authorities of the non-EU country must “rapidly step up their actions to deal with the grave humanitarian situation,” Josep Borrell of the EU told Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, Milorad Dodik, at the meeting. ‘a phone call, Borrell’s spokesperson said.

These authorities should “take full responsibility, act urgently and do whatever it takes to provide immediate assistance and work on longer term solutions,” Borrell told Dodik.

The outspoken words reflected frustration at the slowness and minimal action taken so far to help migrants despite repeated urges from Brussels and 3.5 million euros ($ 4.3 million) in additional aid for the emergency.

Most of the migrants come from Pakistan and Afghanistan and include children.

Their original camp, located in the Una Sana region, near the border with EU member Croatia, burned down on December 23.

The Bosnian army has started placing around half of the migrants in around 20 heated tents set up next to the burned-out camp, with aid groups providing clothing, blankets and food.

The other half remains asleep in a nearby forest, waiting for a solution.

Local authorities, however, refuse to see the camp rebuilt and resist pleas from the United Nations International Organization for Migration that an abandoned factory be used.

The federal government is not forcing the problem.

The Serbian part of the country, represented by Dodik, refuses to see migrant camps on its territory, all of which are in the Bosnian-Croatian part.

In his appeal to Dodik, Borrell noted that the EU had “repeatedly urged” the Bosnian authorities to “provide basic and safe living conditions to all those concerned still sleeping in the cold in extreme conditions”.

He highlighted the total amount of EUR 88 million in EU aid for migration assistance the country has received, and called for “lasting solutions, including with the opening of centers more uniformly. distributed throughout the country ”.

“Failure to do so would have serious consequences for the reputation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Borrell said, according to his spokesperson.

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