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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Population Movement Emergency Appeal n° MDRBA011, Operations Update n° 1

Bosnia and Herzegovina
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This Emergency Plan of Action Operations Update provides details on the action of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies` (IFRC) support provided through the Emergency Appeal to the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RCSBiH) to deliver assistance and support to up to 7,600 migrants since the beginning of December 2018 until the 10 March 2019.
This Operations Update provides an up-to-date description of the migration situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an overview of the RCSBiH and other actors on the ground as well as on the current response to the migrants’ needs. It also gives details on the action, which focuses on the following areas of focus and strategies of implementation: Shelter (Non-Food Items – NFIs); Livelihoods and Basic Needs; Health; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH);
Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI); Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as well as Building the Capacities of the National Society.
The response reflects the current situation and information of the evolving operation and will be adjusted based on further developments and more detailed assessments in the following period.


Description of the disaster

Countries throughout the Balkans experienced a significant influx of migrants in 2015 and 2017. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), however, not being situated on the main migratory route, was only marginally affected at this time. Since the beginning of 2018, the country has seen a significant increase in the numbers of arrivals, with migrants arriving via two different routes: one through Albania and Montenegro; and the other through the Republic of North Macedonia1 or Bulgaria, and Serbia. Since the beginning of 2018, there have been over 26,000 arrivals to BiH.
Entry points to BiH were in the areas of Trebinje, Foča and Višegrad in the Republic of Srpska (RS) and Goražde in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). The majority of people arriving were heading towards Sarajevo and UnaSana Canton and seeking to enter the European Union through Croatia.

After an initial increase in the number of migrants in the first months of 2018, the number of new entries stabilized between May and August with an average of 70-100 people arriving each day. The movement of migrants intensified again in the following months reaching 100-150 of new arrivals per day in September and October. As projected for the winter months the number of new arrivals showed a decreasing tendency with approximately 750 arrivals in January and 1,100 in February 2019, which meant 31 new arrivals per day as average.

However, this still represents a 66 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2018. Overall, the number of refugees and migrants in BiH at a given time remained relatively stable at around 5,000. The top declared country of origin of arrivals remained Pakistan, followed by Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among others. (Source: Service for Foreigners’ Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina) It is worth noting that in the absence of official documents the country-of-origin is self-declared.

As experience from February and March 2019 shows, migrants - including families - started leaving the centres more frequently with the purpose of trying to enter Croatia. However, assumingly due to the generally strict border controls, most return within few days. Challenges continue with regard to access to asylum. After entering BiH, migrants have the right to register their intention to seek asylum – doing so allow newly arrived migrants to stay in the country for 14 days before they either formally apply for asylum or leave the country. Since the beginning of 2016 only 1,600 asylum seekers have managed to register their claim (Source: UNHCR in BiH). The registration of a temporary address in BiH is a key obstacle to this. UNHCR continued raising awareness of this issue at the relevant authorities also suggesting that either reception centres are placed under the Ministry of Security (MoS) / Service for Foreigners’ Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SFA) - which would remove the need for asylum seekers to register their address - or that the KM 10 administrative fee associated with the registration of an address was waivered.
According to the information received at the IOM-UNHCR Coordinated Interagency Meeting on 8 March 2019, in total there were 2,943 migrants in IOM managed centres in Una-Sana Canton (USC) and 645 in the Ušivak TRC. The total number of minors as of 8 March was 196, out of that 150 minors in Una- Sana Canton and 46 minors in Ušivak.

Due to the nature of the migration flow in BiH and the lack of access to systematically collected data, it is not possible to give precise gender and age breakdown of migrants. As a result, the data was assumed based on data collected in two reception centres (Borici and Bira in Una-Sana Canton) by Red Cross staff and volunteers that out of the total number of registered migrants, 84 per cent were men, six per cent were women and ten per cent were children.