Bosnia police stop migrants from reaching northwest area


Migrants wait in line to receive aid from the Red Cross at the Vucijak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. Authorities in the town of Bihac on Monday stopped the delivery of water supplies to the Vucjak camp saying they want to draw attention to the problems in the camp set up on a former landfill and near mine fields from the 1992-95 war. (AP Photo/Eldar Emric)

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BIHAC, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnian police have pulled dozens of migrants off a train to prevent them from reaching a northwestern region of the country, where an overcrowded tent camp on Tuesday remained without water supplies for a second consecutive day.

Hundreds of migrants staying at the Vucjak camp outside the town of Bihac could be seen carrying plastic bottles filled with water they got from local residents. The local Red Cross handed out small bottles of water with a morning meal.

Authorities in Bihac on Monday cut the camp’s water supplies to pressure the Bosnian government to help relocate thousands of migrants stuck in the area near the border with European Union member Croatia as they try to reach Western Europe.

“For two days they (don’t) have water and they … have nothing,” complained Muhamed Lalm from Pakistan. Some people leave the camp and then come back after three or four days without food, added Muradil Akem, from Turkmenistan.

But even in the camp, he said, many migrants are left without food because there is not enough for all.

To stop a further influx to the country’s northwestern corner, local police overnight disembarked migrants traveling on a Bihac-bound train and bused them away from the town. In Bihac itself, police were rounding up migrants and taking them to the Vucjak camp, not allowing them to stay in the city.

Bosnia has been struggling to deal with the situation as the Balkan country remains ethnically divided and economically weak following the war in 1992-95. Bosnian Serbs have refused to allow migrants into their half of the country, while several other municipalities also have rejected formation of migrant camps in their areas.

International organizations in Bosnia have deemed the location of the Vucjak camp unsuitable because it was set up on a former landfill and near a war-era mine field.

Tens of thousands of people from Asia, the Middle East and Africa try to enter Europe illegally every year, braving perilous sea journeys and closed borders in the hope of securing a better life in the continent’s more affluent countries.

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