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Van der Auweraert: Lipa Location in Bihac has become a Winter Prison

”The decision to withdraw from the Lipa camp is perhaps the most difficult I have had to make since arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Peter Van der Auweraert, the outgoing head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) mission, as a guest on the BHRT program.

According to him, the mayor of Bihać and the authorities of the Una-Sana Canton (USK) knew from the first day of “Lipa” that the IOM was asking for the center to be connected to the electricity and water supply system and to prepare for winter.

“Even though we had eight months for that, nothing was done. We did not so easily decide to withdraw from “Lipa”, simply, security could not be ensured there, there was no electricity, water, normal tents, there were no living conditions for migrants, “said Van der Auweraert.

He reminded that the Council of Ministers of BiH decided on Monday that “Lipa” would be a permanent accommodation for migrants, so they should be temporarily transferred to “Bira” until “Lipa” is arranged.

“The authorities of Una-Sana Canton rejected that and that is the situation, so this has now become a winter prison. The police do not allow the migrants to leave the center, and they are afraid that they will lose their lives. Just look at what fire can do. Such horror can happen, and we want to avoid it, ”says Van der Auweraert.

The head of the IOM Mission said the next step should come from the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “It’s not just the security minister, it’s the Council of Ministers, it’s the local authorities.

Someone has to decide where the migrants who are currently stopped in “Lipa” will go. Let’s not forget that we have 1500 or more of them who are in abandoned buildings, in forests, in the vicinity of Bihać and Velika Kladuša.

Someone has to decide where they will be housed, permanently or temporarily. Once that decision is made and if it can be implemented, we start working immediately. The IOM cannot decide where migrants will stay, Peter Van der Auweraert said.

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