Migrants stranded in Bosnia sleeping rough and dying

A migrant rests in a dorm destroyed during the Bosnian 1992-1995 war, in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Reuters)
Updated 30 May 2019

Migrants stranded in Bosnia sleeping rough and dying

  • Bosnia, spared the migrant wave in 2015, has seen an influx of migrants trying to reach wealthier European nations via neighboring Croatia, an EU member
  • About 25,000 people from Asia and North Africa entered Bosnia from Serbia and Montenegro last year, and about 6,000 have arrived in the impoverished Balkan country this year

SARAJEVO: Thousands of migrants and refugees, stranded in Bosnia on their way to Western Europe, are sleeping rough in parks and abandoned buildings and some have died, the Red Cross said on Thursday.
Bosnia, spared the migrant wave in 2015, has seen an influx of migrants trying to reach wealthier European nations via neighboring Croatia, an EU member. Some report being beaten back by border guards when they try to cross into Croatia.
About 25,000 people from Asia and North Africa entered Bosnia from Serbia and Montenegro last year, and about 6,000 have arrived in the impoverished Balkan country this year, according to Bosnia’s security agencies.
Only around 3,500 have been accommodated in transit centers, leaving thousands sleeping rough.
“People are sleeping in parks, in car parks, on the footpath, and in dangerous buildings,” Indira Kulenovic, operations manager for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said in a statement.
“The situation is dire.”
She said three migrants sheltering in a derelict building a few weeks ago burned to death when a candle they were using caused a fire. Another migrant fell from the top floor of a building he was sheltering in, and another set himself on fire and killed himself last week in desperation.
Red Cross volunteers help to prepare meals for 3,000 people a day in five migrant centers across Bosnia, while mobile teams provide people on the move with food, water, clothes, blankets, psycho-social support and first aid.
The migrants also face the hazard of land mines left from Bosnia’s war in the 1990s. Bosnia is one of the most land mine-contaminated countries in Europe.
Most of the migrants are concentrated in the western towns of Bihac and Velika Kladusa where authorities say resources are overstretched. They have requested that the three transit centers there be closed and residents moved elsewhere.
Ethnically-divided Bosnia has not formed a government seven months after a general election. State institutions in charge of migration and asylum issues are operating in a care-taking capacity.
“Our teams are doing what they can but they are stretched to the limit and the situation has reached a critical point. This is a humanitarian crisis,” said Rajko Lazic, the secretary- general of Bosnia’s Red Cross Society.


3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

Updated 28 February 2020

3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

  • The force would be a significant new player in the Sahel where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year
  • The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: African leaders have decided to work on deploying 3,000 troops to West Africa’s troubled Sahel region as extremist attacks surge, an African Union official said Thursday.
The force would be a significant new player in the sprawling, arid region south of the Sahara Desert where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year — at times working together in an unprecedented move.
The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems. That has sparked pressure from worried security allies including France and regional countries as well as a rare bipartisan outcry among lawmakers in Washington.
Smail Chergui, the African Union commissioner for peace and security, relayed the new troop decision that was taken at the recent AU summit during a meeting Thursday with visiting European Union officials.
The AU continental body is expected to work with the West African regional counterterror force G5 Sahel as well as the West African regional body ECOWAS, which has formed peacekeeping units in the past, Chergui said.
ECOWAS in September announced what Chergui called a “very bold” plan to counter extremism in the region, including mobilizing up to $1 billion through 2024.
“As you see and recognize yourself, the threat is expanding and becoming more complex,” Chergui said. “Terrorists are now even bringing a new modus operandi from Afghanistan and Al-Shabab” in Somalia.
It was not immediately clear what the next steps would be in forming the AU force for the Sahel, which has become the most active region in Africa for extremist attacks.
The force would join France’s largest overseas military operation, the 5,100-strong Barkhane, and the 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, one of the hardest-hit countries in the attacks along with Burkina Faso and Niger.