Bosnia asks for help with rising migrant numbers

Bosnia asks for help with rising migrant numbers

Bosnia’s ability to handle the increasing migrant numbers is limited, sources reported, pointing out that there is space for just 154 people at the country’s sole reception center for asylum seekers.

Bosnia’s border police are understaffed and would need 500 additional officers to keep up with the rising numbers of migrants, Security Minister Dragan Mektic said recently.

Mektic said some neighboring countries were failing to respect readmission agreements, thus hindering Bosnian attempts to deport illegal migrants.

These countries "don't carry out effective checks: people are turning the other way at those borders, knowing that migrants will go elsewhere," he said. He urged the international community to monitor the situation at the Albanian-Montenegrin border, where migrants can cross without any checks.

The country has recorded a 600 to 700 percent rise in the number of undocumented migrants, in part due to the closure of the “Balkan route,” Mektic was reported as saying. Many of the 1 million-plus migrants who reached Western Europe in 2015-2016 followed a route from Turkey through Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia, bypassing the mountainous terrain of Bosnia.

The route runs from Greece through Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia, following an itinerary used by arms and drug traffickers. From Bosnia, migrants cross into Croatia en route to Western Europe.

According to sources, the EU border agency Frontex recorded 12,178 illegal border crossings along the Western Balkan route in 2017, the lowest figure since 2012. Just over 42,000 illegal crossings were recorded in the Eastern Mediterranean (Cyprus, Greece’s sea borders, and Greek and Bulgarian land borders) – slightly below the average annual figure for the pre-“migration crisis” period from 2008 to 2014.

Migrants are going through Boznia and Herzegovina in order to reach Europe. Due to the fact that they do not speak the language, quite often, not even English, they are easy prey to lorry drivers who leave them helpless in the middle of Bosnia, after having told them that they have reached Europe. For such "help" they also ask them for money, leaving them literally penniless. Recently one group of migrants told police that after a whole night's drive, the man behind the wheel convinced them they were in Italy.