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Bosnia border towns help migrants, but worried about security

About 4,500 people from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and other troubled countries have entered Bosnia this year | EmadZyuod

Thousands of refugees and migrants have crossed this year into Croatia from Bosnia on their way to Europe's richer countries but many are stuck in border towns. Locals say they can no longer cope and worry about security.

About 4,500 people from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and other troubled countries have entered Bosnia this year after smugglers created a new route from Greece via Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia to Croatia and Western Europe.

According to Rasim Pajezetovic, a businessman in the town of Velika Kladusa "It began spontaneously, us feeding them. All of a sudden there were 500 of them," Rasim has been voluntarily feeding migrants for more than three months.

"We can't finance it and it happens that I really have nothing to make for them to eat," said Pajezetovic, stirring cauldrons of cabbage broth. He said that nobody from Bosnia's institutions have offered any help.

More than a million migrants crossed into Europe from North Africa and the Middle East in 2015, which was a crisis for the European Union. However, relatively few went through Bosnia.

Governmental authorities, who say that up to 40 percent of the migrants entering Bosnia have remained in the country, moved those sleeping rough in the capital Sarajevo to a southern refugee center last week. Bosnia has strengthened border controls and pledged to accommodate all migrants who apply for asylum.

The mayor of Velika Kladusa has also moved migrants sleeping in the town's park to a nearby tented camp, where they are given food, clothes and medical help.

However, according to the source, locals worry that more may come and make trouble for impoverished and ethnically divided Bosnia, where Orthodox Serb and Catholic Croat politicians have already used anti-migrant themes in campaigning ahead of October's general election.

"They come from Greece, which is in the European Union, also Bulgaria, and they let them through; Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro too," said resident Asim Lace. "So, something is being planned... A ghetto in Bosnia?"

The Croatian police has increased patrols along its 1,000 kilometer (621 miles) long border with Bosnia.