Migration situation in Una-Sana Canton requires urgent attention to avoid unnecessary human suffering

STATEMENT BY the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Ingrid Macdonald

The United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina is aware of the challenges that the authorities and local communities face when addressing the complex issue of mixed movement. The authorities and communities in Una-Sana Canton have undertaken important efforts to accommodate and host those arriving and have often done so with limited support.

However, the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina is concerned about the sudden closure of the Bira Temporary Reception Centre (TRC) in Una-Sana Canton. 87 children, including unaccompanied and separated children, were relocated by the police from Bira to Borici TRC two days ago. This was followed by the relocation of all single men from Bira to the Lipa Emergency Camp and Sarajevo that same night.

The United Nations calls attention to the fact that the Lipa Emergency tent camp is already full and not outfitted for winter accommodation. Reception capacities in Sarajevo are also full. As winter approaches and temperatures drop, hundreds of refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers in Bosnia and Herzegovina have no access to safe accommodations, even in their most basic form. The United Nations is particularly concerned that these actions will undermine COVID-19 isolation capacities and preventive measures, resulting in increased health risks for refugees, migrants, asylum-seekers and the general public.

At a moment when Bosnia and Herzegovina is dealing with an unprecedented pandemic and its impact across all segments of society, we urge all relevant authorities to avoid a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.

The United Nations calls on relevant state authorities to quickly ensure alternative solutions, including keeping centres such as Miral operational until other suitable locations are identified. The management of the mixed movement situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires a consolidated approach and comprehensive solution, as it impacts the country as a whole.

The United Nations remains committed to supporting consultations and actions toward timely alternative solutions, while reminding all actors of the responsibilities under domestic law as well as international human rights norms and standards.

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