By: STA, Z.P.
Hundreds of illegal migrants were transferred today from an improvised tent settlement in the village of Lipa near Bihać to reception centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina. About 700 migrants, as many as were left in Lipa after the last week’s fire in the tent settlement, were taken away from Lipa today with about ten buses.
A fire broke out in the tent settlement when representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who operated the camp, left. They left because the authorities did not provide adequate living conditions for the migrants, reports the Croatian news agency Hina.
Authorities initially intended to house the migrants who remained in Lipa after the fire in the former Bira refugee camp in central Bihać. As this was strongly opposed by the city authorities, hundreds of migrants remained on the road. They spent a few nights outdoors in the middle of winter, and meals and warm clothes were provided by the Red Cross in cooperation with the IOM.
According to local media, about 500 migrants are now being housed in centres around Sarajevo, and the rest in facilities near Bihać. Bosnian and Herzegovinian Security Minister Selmo Cikotić said they intended to relocate them to the former barracks in Bradina near Konjic and that this had been agreed at several levels of government. BaH Deputy Prime Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda denied this.
Hina then reported that residents of Bradina prevented migrants from entering today. The mayor of Konjic, Osman Ćatić, said that they had only been informed today that the migrants were to be placed in a barracks in Bradina. He said residents oppose it, as the barracks is located in the primary school yard and close to the settlement. It is not clear now where the migrants will be able to settle, Hina added.
Based on the decision of the BaH government, the Lipa camp should have been transformed from a temporary refugee camp into a permanent reception centre for migrants, but it must first be properly equipped for winter accommodation. Containers are to be installed and heating, running water and electricity are to be provided.
The head of the IOM mission in BiH, Peter Van der Auweraert, recently pointed out that up to 3,000 illegal migrants live in the Una-Sana Canton area in the open and without basic conditions.