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Construction of Temporary Migrant Camp Lipa started

The migrants, who are still staying in the tent settlement Lipa near Bihac, which was destroyed in the recent fire, will be transferred to an improvised camp, where they will be provided with basic living conditions, the Ministry of Security in the BiH Council of Ministers announced.

At the meeting held in Bihac, where the Minister of Security Selmo Cikotic was present, concrete directions of action and activities of all holders of power and institutions were agreed upon, which will approach the equipping of the improvised camp Lipa for accommodation of migrants.

The improvised camp will provide basic living conditions until the equipment of the temporary reception center Lipa, which was established by an earlier decision of the Council of Ministers, is equipped.

The Ministry of Security asked the Armed Forces of BiH to use engineering to repair the access road to the Lipa location, as well as to carry out works in order to establish water and electricity supply.

The participants who visited Lipa together with Cikotic today were offered a memorandum of cooperation on the establishment and functioning of an improvised tent settlement for migrants, which will contribute to the fastest and most efficient establishment of basic conditions for migrants, and start construction work on the Lipa reception center.

In addition to Cikotic, the Lipa camp site was visited by Minister of the Election in the Council of Ministers Sifet Podzic, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of BiH Colonel General Senad Masovic, representatives of Una-Sana Canton, international organizations and the EU Delegation.

The aim of the visit was to establish and agree on the functioning of the improvised camp Lipa.

The head of the European Union Delegation and the EU Special Representative in BiH, Ambassador Johann Sattler, said yesterday that such a situation was unacceptable. 

“The lives and basic human rights of several hundred people are seriously endangered. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a signatory to international human rights instruments and must fulfill its obligations, as a country aspiring to EU membership,” Sattler said.

Hundreds of migrants in the area of ​​the former temporary migrant camp “Lipa”, about 30 kilometers from Bihac, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, still refused food provided by the Red Cross of Bihac, reports Anadolija. 

They have been refusing food for the second day in protest of the conditions in which they are currently staying. 

Bad weather conditions, cold and uncertainty are still present in the area of ​​the former temporary migrant camp “Lipa”, Avaz writes.

Migrants remained under the open sky after the fire, and a solution to the current humanitarian catastrophe is still being sought. 

On Friday, the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina brought and started setting up tents at the site of the “Lipa” migrant camp in the Una-Sana Canton for the purpose of accommodating homeless migrants who found themselves in the area. 

Migrants are in despair, they say that they are not animals but people, “We are freezing here, help”, “We want EU help”, “We are immigrants, we are not criminals” …

The European Commission has announced yesterday an additional €3.5 million in humanitarian aid to help vulnerable refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina facing a humanitarian disaster. More than 1,700 refugees and migrants remain without appropriate shelter and support in Una Sana canton. After the closure of the reception centre in Lipa, which was not winter-proof and which also suffered a fire, 900 people are currently on the former campsite. In addition, a further 800 refugees and migrants are staying outdoors in harsh winter conditions, including children.

High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, said: “The situation in Una Sana canton is unacceptable. Winter-proof accommodations are a pre-requisite for humane living conditions, which need to be ensured at all times. Local authorities need to make existing facilities available and provide a temporary solution until Lipa camp is rebuilt into a permanent facility. The EU’s humanitarian assistance will provide the people in distress with access to basic items as an immediate alleviation to their current plight. However, long-term solutions are urgently needed. We urge the authorities not to leave people out in the cold, without access to sanitary facilities in the midst of a global pandemic.”

While over 5,400 refugees and migrants are accommodated in EU-funded temporary reception centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the current shelter capacity made available in the country is not sufficient.

Despite continued EU engagement with the authorities, they have not agreed to open additional reception facilities and proceeded with the closure of the existing ones, such as the Temporary Reception Centre Bira in Bihać. People continue to sleep in abandoned buildings or makeshift tents, without access to safe and dignified shelter, water and sanitation, electricity and heating, and they only have limited access to food and safe drinking water. Without access to basic services, vulnerable refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina are exposed to serious protection and health risks, aggravated by the coronavirus. The much needed lifesaving help does not replace longer-term solutions to the current situation.

The EU provides technical and financial support to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the overall migration management, including in relation to the asylum system and reception facilities, as well as strengthening border management. Since early 2018, the EU has provided more than €88 million either directly to Bosnia and Herzegovina or through implementing partner organisations to address the immediate needs of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants and to help Bosnia and Herzegovina strengthen its migration management capacities.

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