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Refugee numbers swelling on Bosnia, Croatia borders, aid groups worried

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Aid agencies have called for urgent action to manage the growing number of refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said TRT on Sunday.

Refugees and migrants are moving through Bosnia and Herzegovina to avoid tightened border on the "Balkan route" that goes through Serbia and leads to Germany.

According to the source, refugees trying to get into Europe used to take what was known as the "Balkan route" which would lead through Macedonia and Serbia to Croatia or Hungary, however, the Serbian border has become more difficult to cross.

This is why the refugees have started to bypass it by coming through Bosnia.

The source reported on one case; an Iraqi refugee called Um Rifa, who has been living in the border area for a month and a half with her six children. She had started off her trip through Turkey, Greece, Albania, and Montenegro to end up in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but her journey is not over.

“Hopefully we'll go to Germany, the dream of all these people is to reach that goal,” Um Rifa said.

According to the UNICEF, there have been over 7,600 detected refugee and migrant arrivals to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in 2018 to-date, compared to 218 in 2017. The majority arrive overland from Serbia and some from Montenegro in an irregular manner.

Nevertheless, despite space for a limited number of new asylum seekers, due to remoteness and limited transport links to and from the two centers, many sleep on the streets, in abandoned buildings in Sarajevo without adequate shelter, sanitation, food, or medical care, while some are assisted by volunteers.

The Government of BiH has identified the facilities of Ušivak (Hadžići municipality, Sarajevo Canton) and Agrokomerc (Velika Kladuša municipality, USC) for the establishment of transit/reception centres for refugees and migrants – a related decision was published in the official gazette on June 20th – and ongoing discussions are taking place between the government, potential donors, and UN organizations regarding the set-up.