The Interior Ministry of the Una-Sana Canton (MUP USK) started implementing the Decision of the City Council of Bihac and the Cantonal Operational Group on the relocation of migrants and refugees to the Vucjak location.
Police officers have already transported a group of 135 migrants who have been illegally staying in private accommodation in the center of Bihac.
“We are doing this in order to improve the security situation in Bihac, so we have already moved the first group of migrants to Vucjak. During the day, we continue with these activities and I hope that today and tomorrow Vucjak will accommodate all the people who have been staying around the temporary reception center ‘Bira’. There are tents, water, food and medical assistance available in Vucjak for these people,” said the USK Interior Minister Nermin Kljajic.
Several days ago, the UN expressed serious concern with regard to this decision, as they firmly believe that this location is entirely inadequate for the purpose of accommodating people there.
“We call upon the authorities to immediately cease this relocation until a more suitable place is available. The UN urges the authorities to allow migrants and refugees already relocated to “Vucjak” to return,” UN stated.
“Vucjak” poses very significant health and safety risks and is currently not equipped to accommodate migrants and refugees in accordance with international standards. The site is located very close to landmine infected areas. There is also a high fire and explosion hazard due to the possible presence of methane gas underground, as the site was a former landfill. Unless these two serious risks are assessed and eliminated by the relevant authorities, the site is unsuitable for human habitation. In addition, there are no sanitary facilities available on the site and no access to running water or electricity. Under these circumstances, locating migrants and refugees there is not acceptable.
The UN is aware of the steadily increasing number of migrants and refugees who are remaining for longer periods of time in Una Sana Canton. Numbers now largely exceed the capacity of the four official migration accommodation centres established in the Canton. The UN and its partners are actively engaged on the ground to support authorities in addressing the complex set of protection, security and humanitarian challenges this situation poses.
The UN understands the concerns of the local population and the Una Sana Canton authorities regarding migrants and refugees residing outside of the four official reception centres in the Canton, especially those squatting in public spaces and empty houses, and the need for additional accommodation space. The UN would like to emphasize, however, that such measures need to be taken with full respect of migrant and refugee rights under international and national law, including humanitarian standards for accommodation sites.