Journey to nowhere: Migrants wait in the cold to be bussed from burnt Bosnia camp

by Reuters
Tuesday, 29 December 2020 19:27 GMT

FILE PHOTO: A migrant rests in a temporary shelter at migrant center "Lipa" during freezing temperatures in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina December 27, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

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About 1,200 were left homeless when the migrant camp burned down, but officials have not yet agreed where they should go

BELGRADE, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Hundreds of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East waited in the cold on Tuesday to be bussed out of a burned camp about to be dismantled in Western Bosnia, but there was no agreement where they should go.

Fire destroyed the camp in Lipa housing about 1,200 people last week. Police and UN officials have said the blaze was probably started by migrants unhappy at the temporary closure of the camp, scheduled for the same day.

On Tuesday, media quoted Bosnia's security minister, Selmo Cikotic, as saying that the migrants would be moved to a military barracks in the town of Bradina, 320 km (200 miles) away. Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda disputed that, saying that there had not been any agreement.

Bosnian media showed pictures of buses parked for migrants to board. Residents gathered in Bradina to protest against migrants moving there, the portal klix.ba reported.

About 10,000 migrants are stuck in Bosnia, hoping to reach wealthier countries in the European Union.

The Lipa camp, which was opened last spring as a temporary shelter for the summer months 25 km away from Bihac, was due to shut on Wednesday for winter refurbishing.

The central government wanted the migrants to temporarily return to the Bira camp in Bihac, which was shut down in October, but local authorities disagreed saying that other parts of Bosnia should also share the burden of the migrant crisis.

The European Union, which had supported Bosnia with 60 million euros to manage the crisis and pledged 25 million euros more, has repeatedly asked the authorities to find an alternative to the unsuitable Lipa camp, warning of an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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