Per la libertà di movimento, per i diritti di cittadinanza

Bosnia and Herzegovina: the latest news from Bihać

The situation in Bihac is getting worse for people on the move and the local population, while the politicians and responsible organizations are locked in a power struggle, apparently attempting to make things so miserable for people that new arrivals are discouraged from coming.

Of course, they come anyway but are caught in more and more vulnerable positions: more migrants and refugees arrive from points to the east, while many are again pushed back from Croatia – footage has been circulating of a group now in V. Kladusa that was particularly brutalized with sticks and knives, resulting in broken bones and a lot of head injuries.

Il campo di Lipa
Il campo di Lipa

Bira camp is still closed except for those going to the game. When they are pushed back and try to get back into the camp, the police chases them away and the camp management and humanitarian organizations working in the camp seem to be powerless. They say they’re challenging this behind the scenes but not overtly confronting the police even though the legality of their “blockade” is questionable.

Some people jump the fence into the camp but they are then blacklisted, denied food, or thrown out again by security. So there are more and more people living outside in abandoned buildings and in the “jungle” again. This includes unaccompanied minors, also denied entry back into the camp, though guardians and organizations like Save the Children have managed to get them put into one of the family camps nearby (but that changes the dynamic there, especially for the women and children living there).

The police were leaving people alone since Lipa camp was full, but yesterday they rounded up a whole busload – without giving them a chance to get their things – and drove them to Lipa where camp management did not let them into the camp saying there is no space. This leaves people on the move in the middle of nowhere with one small overpriced market and some entrepreneurs who cook and sell food. No toilets, beds, showers, shelter…

Meanwhile, it seems that Italy has started to push people back to Slovenia, which pushes them back to Croatia, and then to Bosnia.

Il market a Lipa
Il market a Lipa

On May 18, the Crisis Committee of the Una-Sana Kanton issued a 7-point cluster of “decisions” which they charged the police with implementing even though the legal basis for these decrees was not at all clear. They made all sorts of unrealistic demands, including that Bira and Miral camps be closed three days from then and that international organizations transfer all the minors out of the canton. None of that happened and the struggle continues.

The final decree in the list was to forbid organizations and individuals from engaging in humanitarian work with people on the move unless they are under the direct control of IOM or Red Cross. They also forbid “activities in wild camps.”

Did this mean volunteers or even registered associations not working in the IOM-run camps could not give people food and clothes? Not even on the street or places other than the squats? No one had an answer.

Even the organizations stopped distribution for a few days until they consulted with lawyers and confirmed that this decree had no legal basis. The individual volunteers cut back a bit and try to be quick about it when they drop off food.

Independent volunteers from Bosnia and Herzegovina


Una campagna solidale per la libertà di movimento
Dopo il viaggio conoscitivo a ottobre 2019 a Lesvos e sulla Balkan route, per documentare e raccontare la drammatica situazione sull'isola hotspot greca e conoscere attivisti/e e volontari/e che si adoperano a sostegno delle persone migranti, è iniziata una campagna solidale lungo la rotta balcanica e le "isole confino" del mar Egeo.
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