Western Canton of BiH is Asking for Help from the EC

The Prime Minister of the Una-Sana Canton in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mustafa Ruznic, has called on the European Commission to help displace 200 minors from the “Bira” migrant center in Bihac and to coordinate cooperation between BiH authorities involved in the migrant crisis, which has affected the most this western canton on the border with Croatia.

In a letter to the EC, Ruznic thanked the EU for helping to deal with the approximately 70,000 illegal migrants who have crossed the canton so far, but said the results of EU aid were not visible enough on the ground.

According to Ruznic, the canton’s most pressing issue is about 200 minors accommodated with adults in the temporary migrant center “Bira”, which is privately owned and completely inadequate to accommodate minors who are physically and psychologically abused by other migrants. The canton government requested assistance from international organizations such as IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF and DCR to help relocate minors to other centers better equipped to accommodate them, but so far nothing has been done.

Ruznic also criticizes the head of the EU Delegation to BiH, Johann Sattler, for not doing anything to implement the Conclusions of the EC adopted during the visit of Bosnian representatives to the European Commission in Brussels in June 2019. According to these recommendations, the burden of migrant crisis must be spread throughout BiH, with migrants housed in centers across the country. “However, the greatest burden of this crisis in BiH is being carried by the citizens and institutions of Una-Sana Canton, without adequate financial support from international organizations and state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, the letter said.

The cantonal prime minister also noted that the canton had not even received help from the designated EU migration expert, as “Mr. Nino Hartl never once officially visiting Una-Sana Canton, nor visiting temporary centers to assess the situation”.

The letter also says that ambassador Sattler has not taken measures to implement the other part of the EC Conclusions of June 2019 – the closure of privately owned migrant centers, especially the “Bira” facility in Bihac, “Miral” in Velika Kladusa and the opening of state-owned centers.

“According to the available information, the owners of the facilities have paid large sums for rent and have reason to suspect that there is some misuse of funds, as the rents are unrealistically high”, said Ruznic. “We are asking you to use your authority and help our efforts to displace the minors from the “Bira” center in Bihac and to assist in coordinating the activities of the relevant institutions in connection with the migrant crisis in our country”, the letter pleaded.

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