The authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) detected the arrival of 30,268 refugees and migrants to the country between 1 January 2018 and 30 April 2019.
Monthly arrivals in 2019 continue to exceed those in 2018, with 2,631 detected arrivals in April 2019 compared to 1,801 in April 2018. There remains a significant risk of increased arrivals in the summer with improved travel conditions. The majority arrive overland in an irregular manner (i.e. at non-official border crossings) at a number of entry points. It is estimated that between 6,000 and 6,500 refugees and migrants remain in BiH in need of a range of types of humanitarian assistance at various locations, in particular in Sarajevo and USC.
The latter location is linked to attempts to enter Croatia and the European Union. Refugees and migrants in transit are also increasingly frequently sighted in other parts of BiH and in need of humanitarian support, such as Kalesija, Bijeljina, and Tuzla. More detailed population estimates with age, gender, and location information are available in the 3W towards the foot of this document.
In April 2019, the largest declared Country of Origin (CoO) among new arrivals was Pakistan (47 per cent), followed by Bangladesh (12 per cent), Iran (eight per cent), Syria (seven per cent), Afghanistan (seven per cent), and Iraq (six per cent).
As of 30 April, the maximum available capacity across eight formal and informal centres in BiH (USC, Sarajevo Canton, and HNC) was 4,294, not including safe accommodation and hostels made available to a limited number of particularly vulnerable cases or spaces in the Immigration Centre in Lukavica.
During the month of April, there was a noticeable increase in the number of families and particularly of UASC arriving to the TRCs. Large numbers could not be accommodated, highlighting the need for additional protection-sensitive accommodation capacity appropriate for these groups.
The approved capacity limit of 3,200 refugees and migrants in USC remained unchanged, effectively reducing the overall capacity in the country and in USC – for example the Bira TRC has 1,935 beds but a maximum approved capacity of 1,500.
Given the pressure on accommodation, UNHCR and partners, in collaboration with other actors on the ground, work to identify, profile, and prioritize cases for referral to appropriate available spaces. Relatedly, in April, the relocation of families accommodated in the Bira TRC to the Borići and Sedra TRCs continued, as well as the relocation of UASC from Miral TRC to more suitable centres.
Complicating matters, the TRCs continued to see a high turnover rate in April. This was related to the increased number of arrivals as well as an observed increase in attempts at onward movement. Allocating the vacated spaces of those attempting onward movement remained a challenge as most do not announce their departure and so it remains unclear if a given space is available for reallocation. Further, many of those who attempt unsuccessfully to cross into Croatia return to the TRCs to find their space reallocated, often resulting in complaints and protest.
Moreover, in April, IOM received an increasing number of requests from the SFA for IOM to transport people back to IOM-managed TRCs in USC following failed attempts to cross the border (taking up a significant share of IOM centre staff to the detriment of their presence in the TRCs).
Given the discrepancy between suitable accommodation and the population in-country, an unidentified number of refugees and migrants are privately accommodated, sleeping rough, or squatting in Sarajevo and USC. Migrants and refugees in transit have been observed sleeping rough in other locations also. The sanitary and living conditions in these squats are sub-standard and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have previously reported that a number of the residents choose, among other reasons, to reside in these squats due to fears of inter-communal violence in the centres.
The below accommodation and shelter was available in BiH in April: The Ušivak TRC (opened in October 2018), in Hadžići Municipality, is a mixed profile centre, predominantly for single men, but also for families and vulnerable refugees and migrants. The centre is managed by the SFA, with centre management support provided by IOM who oversees the daily running of the centre in coordination with partners providing other services. IOM CCCM staff and security personnel are present 24/7. The Ušivak TRC has a maximum agreed accommodation capacity of 700, but currently provides up-to 800 beds (400 in six-bed housing containers and 400 in a large provisional tent).
At the end of the last week commencing in April, the site hosted 450 refugees and migrants.
Construction works on one of the facilities on the premises that will be able to house up to 170 beds supported by the Qatar Charity are ongoing. This will not increase the overall capacity of the centre but replace the large provisional tent.
The current SFA presence at the Ušivak TRC (10:00-14:00) is not sufficient for the registration of the increased arrivals to Sarajevo Canton and the centre. Large numbers of refugees and migrants can be seen waiting for registration at the centre on most days. The practice of providing visitors cards in order for persons of concern to access services continues, however these individuals are not properly registered at this point nor have they been medically screened prior to accessing the centre, posing protection and health risks.
The Delijaš Asylum Centre (AC) (in operation since 2014), in Trnovo Municipality, exclusively accommodates individuals who have sought asylum in BiH and is managed by the SA of the MoS, with management, services – including free legal aid, psychosocial support, and primary healthcare – and running costs supported through a partnership with UNHCR. The Delijaš AC has a maximum capacity of 154 spaces.
At the end of the last week commencing in April, 23 asylum seekers were accommodated at the Delijaš AC. Referrals to the centre are limited by strict conditions put in place by the SA of the MoS: in April only six families/20 people were referred to the Delijaš AC. On occasion, asylum seekers refuse to be accommodated there, among other factors, because the remote location of the AC.
An additional location in Sarajevo, called House of All, managed by independent volunteers, offers accommodation up to 90 people in Sarajevo, largely to families, and provides a number of key services to residents.
On 11 March, the Council of Ministers (CoM) adopted a Decision1 to define four locations in USC as formal TRCs: the Borići TRC, the Miral TRC, the Sedra TRC, and the Bira TRC, and appointed the SFA to operationalize the Decision. Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation between the SFA, IOM and other competent bodies, shall prescribe the details of functioning, financing, coordination of work and cooperation to ensure efficient work of the TRCs.
Currently, in all four centres in USC, centre management is led by IOM, which oversees the daily running of the camp in coordination with partners providing other services, pending a hand over to the SFA in accordance with the 11 March Decision by the BiH CoM.
The Borići TRC (opened in January 2019 following a complete renovation supported by the EU), in the City of Bihać, exclusively hosts families and other vulnerable groups. IOM staff and security personnel are present 24/7. The currently approved maximum capacity is 430 (as opposed to the previously planned 530).
At the end of the last week commencing in April, the site hosted 396 refugees and migrants with families accommodated in rooms of either 4, 6, 8, or 16 beds. An additional 25 housing containers have already been delivered to the site, but their installation is on hold due to a political decision not to further expand the site’s capacity. Further, insufficient electricity supply continues to be a struggle for the TRC and continues to prevent the main building reaching its planned capacity of 430.
The Bira TRC (opened in October 2018), in the City of Bihać, predominantly accommodates single men, and on a temporary basis, families, and UASC. IOM staff and security personnel are present 24/7. While the Bira TRC has an approved accommodation capacity of 1,500, there are 1,935 available beds in six-bed housing containers or in large provisional tents (which are gradually being replaced).
At the end of the last week commencing in April, the site hosted 1,683 refugees and migrants. While the site predominantly accommodates single men, the majority of refugees and migrants admitted by the centre in April were families and vulnerable individuals. Over the month, family members accommodated in the Bira TRC were regularly relocated to the Borići and Sedra TRCs, freeing space at the Bira TRC for those previously accommodated in the centre’s provisional tents. Free internet connectivity with Wi-Fi access is provided at the Bira TRC by Télécoms Sans Frontières (since 1 November) – over 100 TB of data has been provided.
The malfunctioning of electricity remains an issue.
The Miral TRC (opened in October 2018), in Velika Kladuša, predominantly accommodates single men, and on a temporary basis, UASC. IOM staff and security personnel are present 24/7. The site has a maximum accommodation capacity of 700.
At the end of the last week commencing in April, the site hosted 678 refugees and migrants. During April, the remaining families and UASC were relocated to other TRCs, providing more appropriate and protection sensitive shelter solutions. The centre still hosts six UASC boys, who will be relocated to other TRCs as soon as possible. Télécoms Sans Frontières provides internet access to humanitarian workers in the Miral TRC.
The Sedra TRC (opened in July 2018), in Cazin Municipality, is exclusively for families and vulnerable individuals, who are prioritized for voluntary relocation from other sites in partnership with UNHCR. IOM staff and security personnel are present 24/7. The site has a maximum capacity of 420 beds.
At the end of the last week commencing in April, the site hosted 362 people. The site continues to be affected by the poor conditions of the building’s structure as with the water, electricity and heating infrastructure.
The Salakovac Refugee Reception Centre (RRC) (in operation since 2000) in Salakovac near Mostar, provides accommodation to refugees and persons granted subsidiary protection. The centre management, services – with basic services, free legal aid, psychosocial support, and primary healthcare – and running costs have been continuously supported through a partnership with UNHCR since 2000. As part of the contingency plan of the BiH authorities the Salakovac RRC opened its doors to asylum seeking families as of May 2018, pursuant to a protocol between the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees (MHRR) and the SA of the MoS. The Salakovac RRC has a maximum capacity of 250 spaces.
At the end of the last week commencing in April, 91 asylum seekers were accommodated at this site.
The MoS assumed responsibility of admitting families (from MHRR) in Salakovac which now follows strict rules, as with the Delijaš AC. Just four families/12 people were referred to the centre in April and capacity remains available.