Europe

EU warns Bosnia against migrant mismanagement

Inability to improve dire conditions of migrants could impact country’s path to EU

Agnes Szucs   | 15.01.2021
EU warns Bosnia against migrant mismanagement

BRUSSELS

The European Commission warned Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday that the unsolved situation of migrants may have an impact on the country’s aspirations to join the European Union.

Peter Stano, the foreign affairs spokesman of the European Commission, called “unacceptable” the situation of migrants stranded in Lipa and Bira camps of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and urged the authorities to solve the crisis urgently.

“The inability of the authorities to implement decisions and meet their commitments affects negatively the image of Bosnia Herzegovina internationally, and it might have an impact on the European aspirations of the country,” Stano said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday spoke to Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the tripartite presidency of the Balkan country.

The EU top diplomat reminded him of the country’s international obligations and its responsibilities stemming from its EU aspirations and made “clear that there would be consequences if Bosnia Herzegovina doesn’t meet those demands,” Stano said.

Borrell criticized the dire conditions in the Lipa camp and the overall migration mismanagement, according to the spokesman.

The European Commission decided last week to send €3.5 million ($4.3 million) of humanitarian aid to the migrants.

According to the EU’s estimations, as many as 1,700 migrants are currently staying without proper shelter in harsh winter conditions in the Una Sana canton. Around 900 of them are stranded in a dysfunctional reception center in Lipa which was destroyed in a fire in December.

Since 2018, the EU has sent a total of €13.8 million in humanitarian aid for Bosnia and Herzegovina to host asylum-seekers.

The majority of the migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina would prefer to seek international protection in the European Union but they cannot enter the bloc’s territory.

The European Commission announced in September a reform plan on the bloc’s migration and asylum policy. The proposal focuses on returns, pre-entry checks, and partnerships with third countries to prevent migration flows.

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