Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing an increase in the numbers of migrants crossing the Balkan state in 2018 on their way to the West, sources reported. The noticeable rise in the number of reported illegal migrants has worried the Bosnian authorities – who fear the Balkan country is becoming part of a new 'migrant route' to the West.
According to officials, the situation is under control for now, but they fear it might become an issue if the current upward trend continues.
"By the end of May, if these trends continue, I am afraid we will run out of funds [to deal with migrants]," Borislav Bojic, chair of parliament's joint commission for human rights, told sources.
Estimations put forth by the Service for Foreigners' Affairs say that around 1, 500 migrants are currently in Bosnia and some 70 asylum seekers are now located in a center some 40 kilometers away from the capital, Sarajevo.
“Our capacities are for 154 places, and so far we have this under control but ... once they get asylum cards they can move around, though if they do not report to us for three days in a row, they lose that privilege,” Marijan Baotic, Assistant Minister of Security was reported as saying.
Bosnia has only one official center for asylum seekers and another for illegal migrants who are under constant supervision are not allowed to leave it, unlike those in the asylum center.
Moreover, the source reported that some NGOs and ordinary people have also decided to help and provide asylum seekers with accommodation but are also, as hosts, obliged to report this action to the authorities.
Meanwhile, Bosnia's border police has so far this year reported 458 illegal migrants – which is almost half of the total for the whole of 2017, which suggests that Bosnia may be becoming part of a new route for those who want to enter the EU from such countries as Pakistan, Algeria, Afghanistan and Turkey.
Bojic said that a new migrant route in the Balkans seemed to be appearing, "running through Albania, Montenegro and the Herzegovina part of Bosnia, with an increase of 25% in the number of migrants coming to Bosnia.
“Numbers are increasing ... and we have the capacity to deal with it, but we will be in contact with other agencies over the next period to see what we can do,” he underlined.
The Prime Minister and chair of Bosnia's Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdic, has warned that the poor country cannot cope with a steep rise in the number of migrants.
“Bosnia does not have capacities to deal with larger numbers of migrants and unfortunately, we cannot host all of them, and most of them do not want to stay here, they are just on their way to the EU,” he said.