The Commissioner calls on BiH to improve assistance to Migrants

In a letter addressed to the Ministers for Human Rights and Refugees and for Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina published today, Commissioner Mijatović urges the authorities to spare no efforts in order to improve their handling of migrants’ arrivals.

Concerned by the lack of a systematic response to the situation of refugees and migrants who sleep rough on the streets and in the parks with irregular access to food and health assistance, the Commissioner urges the authorities to provide adequate accommodation by using all available refugee reception centres and to make sure that all asylum-seekers and migrants receive adequate food, healthcare and administrative assistance.

Furthermore, Commissioner recognizes that the situation with migration might presents social and economic challenges for Bosnia and Herzegovina but at the same she underscores the country’s obligation to ensure assistance and access to fair and effective asylum procedures and a need to address it in a human rights compliant way.

The Commissioner requests information on the safeguards that the authorities intend to put in place in this regard.

“Reports that I have received also indicate that many potential asylum seekers face obstacles in accessing the asylum procedure. The procedure entails that asylum seekers who are not accommodated in the asylum centre must register an address with the Service for Foreigners’Affairs, before the expiry of their temporary attestation, which is valid for 14 days, in order to obtain an appointment to submit their application with the Sector for Asylum. It appears that many persons who have been unable to register their address on time remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina irregularly and without access to asylum. I have been informed that last March the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs simplified the relevant procedure and it should now be easier for newly arriving migrants to regularise their status. I would appreciate receiving additional information in this regard.

I have taken note of your government’s intention to step up border controls to prevent further arrivals. I would like to stress that it is of the utmost importance that all persons who wish to seek international protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina have the possibility to do so. All asylum claims need to be considered on their own merits in fair and efficient asylum procedures taking into account individual circumstances and up-to-date and relevant country of origin information. While waiting for their claims to be processed, asylum seekers need to have access to support and services which would provide them with a possibility to live in dignity. Furthermore, as noted above, any decisions taken with regards to persons stopped at the border who do not formally apply forasylum must still be taken on an individual basis, taking into account Bosnia and Herzegovina international obligations. I would be interested to receive information about the safeguards in place to ensure such obligations are fully respected in the implementation of border controls.”

Sarajevo Times

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