European Commission representatives called on all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday to join as soon as possible in dealing with the problems caused by the high influx of illegal migrants, insisting on the closure of the Vucjak camp where hundreds of migrants stay in inhumane conditions.
Michela Matuella, head of the unit for BiH at the European Commission Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, and Martin Taschner of the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, talked about the migrant crisis in Bihac with representatives of the city and cantonal authorities and visited Vucjak, where migrants stay in tents without electricity, heat or running water and sleep in the mud, protected only by cartons they bring themselves.
The conditions are very bad and we are now even more convinced that this camp must be closed and that another location must be found to accommodate these people, Matuella told reporters.
The migrants in Vucjak could not be accommodated in better equipped camps in Bihac because there was no room.
"We clearly said that not only Vucjak but Bira and Miral must also be closed. We didn't give in and won't allow the accommodation capacities (in Bihac) to be enlarged," said Mustafa Ruznic, premier of Una-Sana Canton.
Matuella and Taschner said the EU had given BiH €36 million since the start of 2018 to provide for illegal migrants, adding that the assistance would continue to arrive but would have no results if the BiH authorities did not do their job or cooperate to put the migrant crisis under control.
We can't replace the representatives of government, Matuella said, recalling that €10 million was approved for BiH in August to expand accommodation capacities and build new reception centres, which have not been established.
She said it was encouraging that possible locations for illegal migrants had been found near Sarajevo and Tuzla, adding that this would reduce the pressure on Una-Sana Canton.
She said those locations were being assessed, after which a relocation plan would be made for the migrants in Vucjak.