Red Cross aid arrives for migrants stranded in freezing conditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Budapest/Geneva, 15 January 2021 – Three truck-loads laden with emergency relief supplies for more than 3,000 stranded migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina are due to arrive in the country late today.

The warm clothing, blankets and drinking water from the Italian Red Cross will be distributed to the migrants who have been in miserable conditions near the Croatian border since the Lipa camp was destroyed in a fire last month, leaving an estimated 1,400 people without shelter. The supplies will also be distributed to at-risk migrants in other areas of the country.

Mobile teams from the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina continue their work on the ground providing food, hot drinks, warm clothing, bedding, and first aid to thousands of migrants throughout the Una-Sana Canton.

The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca, called for a real common European approach to migration. He said that the humanitarian situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the result of the EU externalization strategy that exposes migrants to enhanced risks at its external borders, adding that migrants and local communities cannot be left exposed to high risks and vulnerabilities.

“We are extremely concerned for the welfare, access to services and protection of thousands of vulnerable migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We work with all stakeholders to ensure that migrants have immediate access to safe and dignified accommodation, including heating and water, while more permanent solutions are found.

“No one should live in these dire conditions. Migrants must have access to humanitarian assistance including health support and must not be left alone without shelter in freezing weather. This is unacceptable. EU Member States must show solidarity and not leave migrants and authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to cope with this situation on their own,” Mr Rocca said.

The IFRC also expresses concerns about the situation that local communities are facing. These communities were already vulnerable before the arrival of migrants and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased number of people in these communities has put pressure on services and infrastructure. As a result, the IFRC is supporting the local Red Cross to run mobile teams that aim to help 50,000 migrants and 4,500 people from host communities through the end of 2021.