Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina has authorized Bosnian Ministry of Security and Minister Fahrudin Radoncic to speak with everyone to ensure that BiH responds adequately to the possible increased migrant influx after Turkey opened its borders.
During the press conference on Thursday, Radoncic expressed his hope that the EU would behave responsibly in this regard and contribute with a unique response and not leave the Western Balkans alone, Fena news agency reports.
Radoncic added that they expect increased surveillance of the eastern border and faster exchange of information between countries and he also referred to the statement of BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik saying that BiH Armed Forces would not be allowed to engage in border protection, recalling that it was Dodik who made the decisions not to engage FRONTEX forces.
Radončić points out that the Armed Forces can assist the Border Police in many ways, including the use of their resources such as equipment and tents, because if migrants can be accommodated in tents in Turkey, BiH can offer the same because there are not enough resources to accommodate them in centers.
A total of 30,000 migrants entered Bosnia-Herzegovina last year, a huge increase over 2017, when that number was 750, the UN Refugee Agency stated. About 7,000 asylum seekers, migrants and refugees remain in BiH.
Bosnia’s security minister Fahrudin Radončić told Euronews: “the EU has to understand in order to protect their own security they need to turn Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and the whole region into an impenetrable barrier for migrants.”
Dutch MEP Tineke Striksays that the focus on external border control means that member states “tend to look away and deny this is taking place.”
“We really lack a sufficient system of reception and protection and we really lack responsibility-sharing,” she added.
Just last week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that migrants and refugees arriving in the bloc “irregularly” may legally be expelled. The case brought before the court involved Spain sending back migrants to Morocco.
Human rights group Amnesty International tweeted that it a “very disappointing judgement”.
Children made up a quarter of all refugees and migrants arriving in Europe through Mediterranean migration routes in 2019 (some 29,000 children). Nearly 80 per cent of them were registered in Greece alone, according to data from UNICEF.
Despite the overall decrease of refugee and migrant flows towards Europe in 2019, since September there has been a notable spike on both the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes, with an average monthly rate of 8,500 and 1,600 respectively (compared to less than 1,800 and 200 respectively during the first quarter of the year).
Secondary movements in the Western Balkans also continued, leading to worsened humanitarian situations in Serbia, Montenegro, and particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina where reception capacity and protection services remain limited. As of December, some 45,650 children on the move (including 12,800 unaccompanied or separated from their families) are present in Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and the Western Balkans.
Sub-standard reception conditions, overcrowding in first-line reception facilities, as well as limited access to psychosocial
support, case management, care, protection, health, immunization and slow asylum and administrative procedures remain the most common issues faced by refugee and migrant children and their families on the ground.
Despite notable progress in national legislative and policy framework related to the protection of unaccompanied children, and overall inclusion into national education systems, national capacities to respond to the needs of some of the most vulnerable children on the move (e.g. living in squats and informal settlements in urban areas, potential victims of GBV, as well as in detention or in first identification and reception centres in Greek islands) are limited, requiring additional investments and technical support.