Migrants from Bosnia camp kept in buses as relocation halted

BIHAC, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Hundreds of migrants from a burned-out tent camp in northwest Bosnia have spent the night in buses after an attempt to relocate them failed, reflecting confusion in the Balkan country’s dealing with the crisis.

Bosnian authorities sent buses on Tuesday to transfer the migrants from the much-criticized Lipa camp to an army barracks in central Bosnia but this was canceled after locals there organized protests to prevent the relocation. On Wednesday morning, migrants were still inside the buses, local media reported.

The Lipa camp near Bosnia’s border with European Union member state Croatia was demolished in a fire last week and lacked basic facilities such as running water or heating. Some 1,000 migrants were stranded there for days during a spate of snowy and windy winter weather that followed the fire.

The situation has prompted warnings by EU officials and aid groups of a looming humanitarian disaster and increased pressure on Bosnia to act to move the migrants away from the camp.

The troubled Balkan country that went through a devastating war in the 1990s has been struggling with the influx of thousands of people seeking to reach Western Europe. Bickering among Bosnia’s ethnically divided authorities has prevented an organized response to the crisis, leaving some 3,000 migrants sleeping rough or in makeshift tents.

Most migrants are staying in the northwest corner of Bosnia, where they hope to cross into Croatia before moving on toward wealthy EU nations. To get to Croatia, migrants use mountainous illegal routes and often face pushbacks and alleged violence at the hands of Croatia’s police.