“Migrants, go home!” and “Close Bira down” - the residents of Una-Sana Canton (USK), Bosnia's northwestern region, shouted as they protested on Friday afternoon in front of one of the temporary shelters for migrants in the Bosnian town of Bihac, demanding that the camp be closed down and migrants removed from the urban zones.
Some 300 locals arrived in front of the Bira camp in Bihac for what they said was a peaceful gathering to protest against the presence of migrants near their homes and urban zones in general.
They said they wanted to spend time in their neighbourhoods “in peace.”
Shocked by the gathering against their presence, the migrants said they never intended to stay in Bosnia but hope to continue their journey towards the European Union countries.
The migrants also complained about the conditions in the camps set up for their accommodation. One of those camps, the Vucjak centre, is located near Bihac. The EU had warned the camp did not meet the basic living conditions and called on the local authorities to shut it down.
To provide accommodation for the migrants, the authorities were asked to pick a new location, but their efforts were hindered by locals who objected to camps for migrants near their settlements.
To try and solve the problem the task force monitoring the migrant situation decided this week to restrict the movement of migrants around temporary centres in the USK.
Over the past year, 25,000 migrants have entered the country and although there is no precise data, authorities estimate that there are some 9,000 of them in the country right now.
Since Croatia keeps its borders closed for illegal migrants, they are mostly stranded in the Bosnia's northwest, at the EU's gate.