Thousands of irregular migrants battle extreme heat and overcrowding in Bosnia

Thousands of migrants are braving a heatwave in the Balkans as they journey towards the European Union.

“It is too hot. We could not rest in the tents,” said Suleman Ashraf, a 29-year-old Pakistani trying to get to Spain where his brother is.

The heat is adding to an overcrowded and unsanitary environment. In Bihac and Velika Kladasa near the Croatian border, reception centres run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are full. Over 3,500 irregular migrants are currently seeking shelter there.

The centres are so full that city officials have moved at least 800 migrants to Vicjak, a former garbage dump for the city of Bihac. The United Nations (UN) said the camp is very close to minefields, while the European Union has refused to fund aid at the camp as “it is not a suitable location and presents a clear danger” for those staying there.

According to Bosnia security minister, more than 34,000 irregular migrants from Asia and Africa have entered the country since the start of 2018. 11,000 of those arrived in this year alone.

About 8,000 irregular migrants are currently stuck in Bosnia. Many have tried and failed multiple times to cross the border to Croatia, the last border before migrants are officially in the European Union.

In an interview with the Agence Presse France (AFP), Saleh Alhasan, a 33-year-old Syrian said: “I tried more than 15 times… It has been 10 months that I try to pass. And I do not want to give up.”

“Recently far fewer people succeed in crossing the border. Croatia has considerably reinforced its police presence,” said regional police spokesman Ale Siljdedic on the AFP.

A hundred migrants arrive daily in the canton of Bihac, he added. The huge influx has caused unease in the town, which has only 65,000 residents.

TMP – 26/07/2019

Photo credit: Ajdin Kamber/Shutterstock

Photo caption: Tents in camp for refugees. Thousands of refugees and migrants are trapped and stuck at the closed border between Bosnia and Croatia.

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