Dire humanitarian situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires urgent action, say OSCE PA’s migration and human rights committee leaders

COPENHAGEN, 6 January 2021 – Political leaders at all levels must overcome their differences and find a joint humane and durable solution to the humanitarian crisis in and around Lipa in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the chairs of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration said today.

Cypriot parliamentarian Kyriakos Hadjiyianni, who chairs the humanitarian committee, and Margareta Cederfelt, who chairs the migration committee, stressed the need for state and local leaders to work together with aid agencies and non-governmental organizations on the ground in order to meet the needs of some 1,400 migrants who joined an estimated 1,500 individuals already enduring freezing temperatures in northwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina after the closure and subsequent destruction of the Lipa camp near Bihac.

“The lives of hundreds of people in Lipa and in nearby forests are at risk,” said Hadjiyianni. “The burden of the crisis should be distributed within the country in an equal equitable and fair way, in the interests of these most vulnerable people. The current crisis once again demonstrates the growing need for migration management that takes into account concerns of local authorities, affected residents and vulnerable migrants in order to provide durable solutions.”

He added that authorities should refrain from using anti-migrant rhetoric that fuels negative attitudes and resistance by local populations.

Cederfelt noted that the extraordinary circumstances underline the need for solidarity among European Union Member States countries to act, recalling that the European Commission’s Pact on Migration and Asylum demands more efficient and faster procedures throughout the asylum and migration system and sharing of responsibility.

“To meet our OSCE commitments and humanitarian obligations, we must act here and now to address this dire situation,” Cederfelt said. “It is simply unacceptable that this humanitarian crisis is allowed to continue on our watch, and I urge all of my colleagues and relevant authorities to support the efforts of NGOs, the UNHCR and the IOM, who are working to ease the plight of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers enduring sub-freezing temperatures without shelter.”

Hadjiyianni and Cederfelt called on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to uphold principles enshrined in International Human Rights Law and to ensure the safety of those at risk by ending the current deadlock. Both the Federation of BiH and Republika Srpska and not only two cantons in the Federation, Una-Sana Canton and Sarajevo Canton, must share responsibility in this regard, they said.

Approximately 900 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers have been stranded for days at the location of the former Lipa Emergency Tent Camp, despite the availability of existing infrastructure and sufficient funds to house all of the individual affected by the present humanitarian crisis. Although options for relief were currently being discussed between the different parties involved, Hadjiyianni and Cederfelt both emphasized that immediate action was needed as time was of the essence.

On 17 December, the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration held an online meeting focused on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which included briefings by authorities as well as representatives of inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations working on the ground. Committee members heard from representatives of the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a representative from the the UN High Commissioner on Refugees representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Danish Refugee Council, and NGOs “SOS Balkanroute” and “Are You Syrious,” a member of the Border Violence Monitoring Network.

Participants discussed the migratory situation in the country, warning of an impending humanitarian crisis due to the closure of another reception facility without alternative accommodation plans. They stressed the need for urgent action to be taken to accommodate the needs of migrants without proper shelter, as well as pursuing coherent and long-term solutions to managing migration.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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