Bosnia: Migrants resist closure of “shameful” Vucjak camp

In response to mounting international pressure, Bosnian authorities have decided to shut down Vucjak, a makeshift migrant camp built on the site of a landfill. However, the camp residents are opposing the plan to relocate them to other facilities further away from the border with Croatia.

Conditions in Vucjak camp have caused uproar from the human rights community. It lacks running water and toilets, and is located near an old minefield from the conflict in the 1990s. Recent snowfall has made life even harder for the residents, many of whom lack adequate clothing and footwear for the harsh Bosnian winter.

“This camp should never have been opened,” said EU Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, after a recent visit, describing the camp as “shameful”. She added: “What I saw on Vucjak was something I had never seen before.”

Bosnia will be clearing the space and relocating migrants to a complex, which is being converted from former army barracks into a migrant reception centre. But the residents who plan on continuing their journey to western Europe through Croatia are not willing to move further away from the border, which is only 8km away.

“They are closing down the camp but people will not go to another city or another camp,” Mohammed, an Afghan migrant, told Reuters.

“If they take us out of here, we will come back after one day, after one hour, one minute,” Fazil, another Afghan, told the AP. “We will come back here again.”

Protestors in the camp have made banners urging other European nations to let them continue their journey. Some read: “We request EU to open the border,” and “We are dying here.”

Dragan Mektić, Bosnia’s Minister of Security, stated that migrants who have entered the country irregularly have no right to decide where they stay, and will therefore be forced to move.

TMP – 10/12/2019

Photo credit: Ajdin Kamber / Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina 30 Oct 2019: Refugee and migrant camp Vucjak. Site is located close to landmine infected areas and landfill. Croatian border is few kilometers away. Tents and people.

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