Migrants to Start Entering Croatia Through Bosnia and Herzegovina?

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Is a new migrant corridor opening through BiH? 

The continued influx of migrants to Europe in the coming period could cause a change in the refugee route, and Bosnia and Herzegovina could find itself a part of the Western Balkan route, said the German Ambassador in BiH Christian Hellbach, reports Index.hr and Vecernji List on February 17, 2016.

“BiH has not yet been affected by the refugee crisis like neighbouring countries, but that does not mean that it could not happen quite soon”, said Hellbach. The German ambassador suggested that the increasingly strict controls introduced by some of the countries which are currently part of the route, such as Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria, might compel asylum seekers to try to find alternative routes, and BiH is a natural choice for them.

The border between Croatia and BiH is more than a thousand kilometres long and its complete closure for illegal crossings would be a huge logistical challenge for the police forces of both countries. Hellbach added that BiH is exposed to the risk of terrorism and of the arrival of foreign fighters from the battlefields, and therefore must be especially prepared to make its security services ready for effective control of the situation in the country.

The American Ambassador Maureen Cormack said that her government shared the concerns about the developments with the migrant crisis. She added that the crisis was continuing and this has resulted in the arrival of additional 70,000 refugees to the European Union just since the beginning of this year. Cormack added that the United States have so far spend more than five billion dollars for the care of refugees. She warned that the migrant crisis was raising many serious questions about how to provide protection to those who are really affected by the wars, but at the same time how to prevent the spread of violent extremism.

In other refugee related developments, Croatia has returned 217 refugees to Serbia. The news has been confirmed by the spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Serbia Mirjana Milenkovski. The refugees were returned by train and are currently located in Šid. “They are mostly Afghan families with children, some Iraqis and a small number of Syrians”, said Milenkovski.

She explained that the refugees have been provided accommodation and they have been informed about the procedure for obtaining asylum in Serbia. “We are trying to find out why they have been returned. They were returned from Slovenia to Croatia, and then from Croatia to Serbia, but it is not clear why”, concluded Milenkovski.


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