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.
In the last several days, over 50 migrants have come to Tuzla from Serbia, planning to move towards the western border of Bosnia-Herzegovina and continue their journey to the European Union with more favorable weather conditions, Oslobodenje news portal reports.
As before, these are mostly younger men, who are looking for a better life mainly in Western European countries.
Among them is Javad from Pakistan, who has spent the last few months in Serbia, waiting for a better time to move on.
He came to Tuzla because he heard that the migrants were treated well here.
The living conditions of migrants in Tuzla are still very poor, although volunteers, with the help of good people and donors, have managed to make their stay at least a little better.
A few weeks ago, an abandoned motel was rented in the suburbs of Tuzla with the help of the humanitarian organization Pomozi.ba, where migrants have been staying from time to time, and more recently, Community Service Center opened a safe house.
The capacity of the house is not large, and it is planned as a location to house families.
Two years ago, just 750 migrants were recorded passing through Bosnia. In 2019, that figure rose to about 29,000 — most of them fleeing conflict or poverty in Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco and Pakistan.
In November last year, the City Council of the City of Bihac approved the location of Lipa as the only one owned by the City of Bihac to establish a temporary reception center for migrants, Klix.ba news portal reports.
The settlement should contain 1,106 containers. According to the plan document, Camp Lipa should have 728 migrant housing containers, 252 sanitary containers, 126 administrative containers that will house police, the Red Cross, medical teams, registration area, NGOs and media, and a central kitchen with dining room. There is also space for entertaining, education and recreation.
The future camp would be located on an area of nearly 83,000 square meters.
Containers contain windows, parquet floors and everything that migrants need for a comfortable stay, and the outside is decorated in a variety of colors. A recreation area, walks and rest area with trees and benches are also provided. The kitchen will cover an area of nearly 18 thousand square meters. It is also important to emphasize that men will be separated of from woman and children.
There are already existing roads to this location, but it is necessary to build 4,5 thousand meters of internal roads and to provide water, electricity and sewage.
It is still unknown when construction will begin, but it is known that it should do so as soon as a new migrant wave is expected in the spring. Camp Lipa is located between Bosanski Petrovac and Bihać.
The site could be accepted by the European Commission, given that it is city-owned and remote from populated areas.
The problem could possibly be posed by the Republic of Croatia, given that this village is near the border with that country.