Camp Lipa in Bosnia to Close on Friday, Leaving 1,365 Migrants on the Streets

The migrant camp Lipa in the western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina will close on Friday after Bosnia’s Council of Ministers failed to reach an agreement on declaring it as a permanent institution, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced.

The IOM said it will distribute sleeping bags and one more breakfast to the 1.365 migrants there. 

After that, they are on their own and will be again on the streets where about 1.500 migrants are already spending the winter, hoping to cross the nearby border to Croatia and enter the EU. 

The Security Ministry said it had proposed three important issues concerning the migrants to be discussed at the Council of Ministers session. 

The Council decided to form a working group that will develop a strategy and an action plan for the period from 2021 to 2025 regarding the migrant problem and adopted a report containing a Plan of measures and activities for effective management of the migrant crisis which had been taken off the agenda from 2019 until Thursday. 

With the adoption of the Plan, the Security Ministry now has an official document that defines the priorities, sets the measures and activities that need to be taken and defines the responsibilities and deadlines. 

It called on the relevant authorities to execute their parts of the plan. 

The Security Ministry proposed the establishment of a temporary migrant reception center for those who so far resided in the Lipa camp but Serb ministers rejected it, leaving the Lipa camp without further financing. 

The Ministry’s statement said that this will create a serious humanitarian, security, and political crisis in the Una-Sana Canton, where most of the migrants are. 

Tens of thousands of migrants arrived in Bosnia and their way to the EU but Croatian police keeps pushing them back when they try to cross the border and Bosnian Serb authorities do not allow them to stay on their territory. 

This puts the entire burden on the Una-Sana Canton. 

The Ministry said it expects the burden of the responsibility for managing the migrant crisis to be distributed more evenly in BiH, arguing that the Una-Sana Canton and the Sarajevo Canton cannot continue to serve as places where all the migrants are being sent from across the country. 

The Ministry also said it expects all levels of government to get engaged in resolving the issue. 

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