Thursday June 08, 2023

Bosnia slams neigbours

June 07, 2018

SARAJEVO: A Bosnian minister on Wednesday accused neighbouring countries of not doing enough to prevent migrants from entering his country as it struggles to cope with growing numbers of arrivals.

More than 5,500 illegal migrants have entered Bosnia since the start of the year, arriving from Serbia or Montenegro after crossing Albania, Greece or Macedonia and hoping to enter the European Union via neighbouring Croatia.

"I’m not certain that all the countries are behaving sincerely, correctly and professionally on this Balkans route," Security Minister Dragan Mektic told reporters. "There are countries that registered only 500 migrants" so far this year, he said without elaborating on the eve of a meeting of Balkans countries’ interior ministry officials.

The minister voiced regret that the countries on the so-called Balkans route do not respect bilateral deals on migrant readmission after they are caught in Bosnia and said those agreements are now in "serious crisis." Impoverished Bosnia has seen a sharp rise in the number of arrivals, particularly young men, but lately also families with children, notably from Iran and Pakistan.

Their number still cannot be compared with hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa in 2015 and 2016 and using the Balkans route. The trail was closed in March 2016 but small numbers of people, seeking alternative routes, still cross the region to reach the EU.

One of Europe’s poorest countries with fragile institutions divided along ethnic lines, Bosnia cannot cope with the numbers and should soon receive financial aid from the European Commission to help it handle the crisis, Mektic said.