“Snow has fallen, sub-zero temperatures, no heating, nothing,” the International Organisation for Migration’s chief of mission in Bosnia, Peter Van Der Auweraert, tweeted. “This is not how anyone should live. We need political bravery and action now.”
Bosnia has become a bottleneck for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Western Europe. Most are stuck in Bosnia’s north-west Krajina region as other areas in the ethnically divided nation have refused to accept them. The EU has warned Bosnia that thousands of migrants face a freezing winter without shelter, and it has urged the country’s bickering politicians to set aside their differences and take action.
On Saturday, local time, migrants crowded at the camp to receive water and food provided by Bosnia’s Red Cross as police sought to maintain order. Some migrants wore face shields to protect them from coronavirus.
“We are living like animals. Even animals are living better than us!” said a man from Pakistan who identified himself only by his first name, Kasim. “If they not help us, we will die, so please help us.”
Plans to relocate the migrants temporarily to a closed facility in central Bihac have prompted protests by residents.
Left without a solution, migrants put down cardboard on the floor and set up improvised barriers for privacy inside the only standing tent at the Lipa camp. Some people held their wet feet above the small fires that migrants lit outside to warm up, while others wrapped up tight in blankets for warmth. Many migrants were wearing sneakers in the snow.
To get to Croatia, migrants often use illegal routes over a mountainous area along the border. Many have complained of violence and pushbacks by the Croatian police.