SARAJEVO, December 30 (FENA) – International humanitarian organizations – IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF, DRC, MdM and Save the Children called today for an immediate solution for at least 900 migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers who have been kept in dire humanitarian conditions and uncertainty at the Lipa location for more than 24 hours.
The humanitarian organizations call for state, entity and local authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to uphold the principles enshrined in International Human Rights Law, ratified conventions – as well as national legal frameworks – and ensure safety and protection for people at risk by ending the current deadlock.
About 900 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, stranded for the last seven days at the location of the former Lipa Emergency Tent Camp, spent last night embarked on 20 buses, which were expected to take them to an appropriate temporary reception facility that was identified by the authorities. However, the buses never left the site, following a deadlock in decision-making processes at different levels of authorities, and local population protests.
The plight of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers deepens day after day. The lack of safe and appropriate alternatives to the Lipa Emergency Tent Camp resulted in the closure of the site, which lacked the most basic conditions for hosting people in winter. The closure was followed by a large-scale fire that destroyed most of the site. Fortunately, human casualties were avoided. Hundreds of people spent the following week in the open at the Lipa location, in freezing temperatures, without access to basic facilities, supported with minimal humanitarian assistance.
In the absence of any solution, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, have now been disembarked from buses and returned to the Lipa site – in freezing temperatures and with virtually no shelter on site. Forcing people once again to stay out in the open in these conditions cannot be an acceptable solution. The lack of immediate action by responsible authorities risks grave consequences to human safety and lives.
The population of Bosnia and Herzegovina has shown solidarity with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers for the last three years, and provided indispensable support to those in need. However, the current absence of consensus among the authorities and the negative rhetoric risks further fueling xenophobia and stigmatization of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in BiH. The authorities must act responsibly and ensure safety for both local population and migrants and asylum seekers. Prompt actions are needed to end the impasse that the migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are now suffering.
Protection, safety and emergency humanitarian assistance must be provided to those in need as soon as possible. The undersigned humanitarian organizations continue providing humanitarian assistance to relieve the suffering of people, and reiterate their readiness to support the authorities’ efforts to provide assistance in a safe and dignified manner, it is said in a joint statement.