Bosnia and Herzegovina has emerged as a new stopping point for migrants trying to reach Europe. But thousands have found themselves trapped because the border with neighboring Croatia is closed.
The town of Bihac near the border was unprepared for their sudden arrival, which means the migrants are living in difficult conditions, with winter fast approaching.
But locals are rolling up their sleeves to provide food and shelter.
A total of 14,969 migrants have entered BiH since the beginning of this year, the country’s security minister Dragan Mektic revealed earlier.
Speaking at a press conference, Mektic said the number of migrants entering the territory of BiH has “drastically decreased” and that those who enter do not want to stay in the country. Migrants are mostly treated as economic ones, using BiH as a transit country en route to the European Union (EU) member states.
Out of the total number, 13,958 migrants expressed their intention for asylum, but only 399 have actually applied for it, according to the minister.
“The number of migrants has drastically decreased and with the arrival of winter, the number will be even smaller. We will try to protect the border,” Mektic said.
Some 80 percent of migrants enter from the eastern border with Serbia, originating mainly from Pakistan, Syria and Iran, said the minister.
The EU announced in August that it will support BiH in managing the migrations with 6 million euros (7.06 million U.S. dollars), and the money will be used to “provide accommodation and basic services for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants as well as to strengthen the capacity for border control and surveillance.”