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Migrants take a shower in camp Vucjak in Bihac Migrants take a shower in camp Vucjak in Bihac 

Bosnia Police halting migrants as crisis escalates

Police in Bosnia-Herzegovina have pulled dozens of migrants off a train to prevent them from reaching a northwestern region of the Balkan nation, where an overcrowded refugee camp is without water supplies for a second consecutive day. The incident added to mounting international concerns about the humanitarian situation of the region's thousands of migrants who have fled war, persecution, and poverty.

By Stefan J. Bos

Bosnian police could also be seen rounding up migrants and taking them to the nearby notorious Vucjak camp. They were not allowed to stay in the Bosnian town of Bihac.

Elsewhere local security forces took dozens of migrants from a Bihac-bound train and bused them away from the town. But even those who do arrive in the camp face hardship.

Migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty are desperate. "I have such a problem, no toilet, no water, please some media, help me," one man said.

"No bathroom, electricity, no phone charging, no signal... Nothing. Nothing for a human to stay and live here. It's difficult. I can't go down [to Bihac] to speak with my family," added Halid, a migrant from Egypt.

No water

Adding to the difficulties is Monday's decision by authorities here to cut the camp's water supplies. They want to pressure the Bosnian government to help relocate thousands of migrants.

Official estimates show that some 40,000 migrants entered Bosnia since 2018. More than 7,000 of them have settled in the northwest Bihac area, hoping to cross into nearby European Union member state Croatia and go on to the affluent north and west of the E.U.

Nearly 20 percent of the migrants are children.

As they wait, hundreds of migrants staying at the Vucjak camp could be seen carrying plastic bottles filled with water they got from residents. The local Red Cross handed out small bottles of water with a morning meal.

But with winter approaching, the U.N. migration agency and the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner have urged Bosnia to relocate this overcrowded migrant camp. They warn of a humanitarian risk because of what they view as "deplorable" conditions.

Struggling nation

Bosnia has been struggling to deal with the situation as the Balkan country remains ethnically divided and economically weak following the war between different ethnic groups from 1992 till 1995.

Bosnian Serbs refuse to allow migrants into their half of the country, while several other municipalities also reject the formation of migrant camps in their areas.

These people are among tens of thousands of people from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa who try to enter Europe every year.

They often brave dangerous sea journeys and closed borders in the hope of securing a better life.

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos
22 October 2019, 17:11