EU’s Multi-Million Euro Support for IOM, Partners Helps Thousands of Stranded Migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Posted: 
11/09/18
Themes: 
Migrant Assistance

Sarajevo – With elevated numbers of migrants and refugees entering Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2017, the European Union has just allocated more than EUR 7.2 million in grants to support the work of the UN Migration Agency, IOM, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The funds were provided through an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance special measure. Resultant projects will be implemented by IOM in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency and UNICEF to help further strengthen the country's migration management, asylum, border control and surveillance capacities.

This allocation will also build on the existing support in the distribution of food and provision of emergency shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services, protection, as well as other necessities to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

“With close to 22,000 migrants having arrived in the country since January, it is clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs international support. This new funding will allow IOM and partners to assist migrants and authorities and relieve the pressure on local communities,” noted Peter Van Der Auweraert, IOM’s representative in the western Balkans.

Access to asylum, protection and social security systems, including healthcare and education for children, will be improved through support to the Border Police, Service for Foreigners' Affairs, the Sector for Asylum, Centres for Social Welfare and relevant Cantonal and Municipal authorities.

Shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure will be put in place or expanded to provide secure and dignified accommodation, protecting families with children and other vulnerable individuals from the looming Balkan winter.

This project will further build on EU’s longer-term support for protection-sensitive migration management in line with EU standards.

Based on available data, 28,709 irregular migrants were registered in Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina between January and 4 November 2018. 75 per cent of the overall migrants registered this year in the above listed countries were apprehended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where since the beginning of the year, authorities reported 21,584 new irregular migrants – 19 times more than the 1,166 registered in the whole of 2017. Part of the migrants and refugees who arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina did so after spending a certain amount of time in Serbia, Greece and Turkey. According to the available information on nationalities, one third of migrants registered in Bosnia are Pakistani nationals (34%), followed by those from the Islamic Republic of Iran (16%), the Syrian Arab Republic (12%), Iraq (9%) and more than 67 different nationality groups.  Available data from IOM field colleagues indicates that there are estimated 3,286 migrants and refugees residing in different official and unofficial reception centers in the country, mainly in Una-Sana Canton in the vicinity of the border with Croatia.

In Albania and Montenegro, Syrian nationals comprised the majority (51% and 45% respectively), followed by those who arrived from Pakistan (13% and 17% respectively), Algeria and Iraq (both 8%) in Montenegro, and Iraq (10%) in Albania. The differences in the nationality structure of registered migrants between the three countries are explained by the fact that migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina also enter from Serbia (especially migrants form Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan), and that certain groups of migrants from Montenegro continue not only toward Bosnia and Herzegovina but towards Serbia as well. As of 28 October, 3,011 migrants were apprehended in Albania on both entry and exit in the Gjirokastra and Shkodra regions respectively. 52 per cent of migrants apprehended in Albania were detected on entry from Greece (a total of 1,551) and the remaining 48 per cent are apprehended while trying to exit the country towards Montenegro (a total of 1,460).  In Montenegro, 4,114 were registered as of 4 November – 6 times more than the 669 registered between January and November 2017. According to available data, 182 migrants and asylum seekers were accommodated in official reception centers in Montenegro on 4 November.

Available DTM flow monitoring data for Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also indicate increased movement of irregular migrants to/through these countries. Between January and 31 October 2018, there were 7,257 newly registered migrants in the reception centers across Serbia. This is a 28 per cent increase from the 5,676 registered in the whole of 2017. Further on, arrivals in Serbia almost doubled in October when compared to September – 1,662 vs. 920 respectively. Almost half of all registered migrants in Serbia as of 31 October declared Pakistani origin (46%), another 30% were from Afghanistan followed by 14% from the Islamic Republic of Iran, 5% from Bangladesh, and 2% from Iraq. On 4 November, 3,422 migrants and asylum seekers were reported to reside in different accommodation centers across the country. In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia authorities reported the arrival of 2,962 irregular migrants as of 4 November, five times the 547 reported in the whole of 2017. Available information on nationalities as of end of October indicates that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the most commonly reported origin country declared by 60% of the registered migrants. Iraqi nationals comprise another 18%, Pakistani nationals 8% and Afghanis 8%. Some 51 migrants and asylum seekers were residing in official reception centers in the country on 4 November.

For more information, please contact Joe Lowry, IOM Regional Office in Vienna, Tel: +436603776404, Email: jlowry@iom.int

  • The new EU funding will allow IOM and partners to assist migrants and authorities and relieve the pressure on local communities. Photo: IOM

  • The new EU funding will allow IOM and partners to assist migrants and authorities and relieve the pressure on local communities. Photo: IOM