SARAJEVO, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) — Some 10,866 migrants have entered Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) since the beginning of this year until Aug. 15, the country’s security minister Dragan Mektic revealed at a press conference on Friday in the city of Banja Luka.
Migrants are mostly treated as economic ones and official data shows how their number in the country is significantly decreasing, he said.
“The BiH security ministry estimates that there are currently between 2,000 and 3,000 migrants residing on BiH territory,” Mektic said, adding that the rest used BiH as a transit country while en route to European Union (EU) countries.
He said the BiH authorities were in control of the processing of the country’s migrants.
“We are putting the migrants under control and we are certain in managing them,” Mektic said, adding that the significant decrease in the number of migrants proves the BiH authorities have the situation under wraps.
BiH will continue to strengthen its border control to reduce the number of illegal migrants entering the country by increasing the members of the BiH border police force. A total of 460,000 convertible marks (267,908 U.S. dollars) from the budget reserve was allotted for this, Mektic explained, adding that the greatest pressure was at the BiH eastern border with Serbia.
Next week, work begins on the reconstruction of three additional reception centers for migrants in Una Sana Canton (USC), where the highest number of migrants resides.
In addition, BiH authorities decided on Thursday that BiH Service for Foreigners’ Affairs will work during weekends and holidays in order to more successfully and promptly register all the migrants entering the country.
The highest number of migrants comes from Pakistan, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran, followed by migrants originating from Iraq, Libya and other countries.
Since Jan. 1, more than 700 illegal migrants were expatriated from BiH. Five migrants originating from Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan were put under supervision of the Immigration Center in East Sarajevo on Thursday for committing the criminal offenses of robbing and frequent violations of public order. They are forbidden to enter BiH in the next three years.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants passed through the so-called “Balkan route” in 2015, trying to reach Western Europe. BiH was not part of that route at the time. However, migrants have turned to BiH in recent months in an attempt to avoid more heavily-guarded routes and borders in the Balkans.