5,751 Migrants present at Transit Centers (TRCs)
8,251 Migrants in BiH
5 TRCs fully operational
On 23 December, the Emergency Tent Camp (ETC) Lipa (USC) was officially closed since it was not suitable for winter. The same day, a fire destroyed part of the camp, fortunately not causing victims. IOM and partners on the field swiftly managed the situation providing technical assistance to BiH Army who set up 30 tents in the vicinity of Lipa provisional camp.
Relocation of persons started immediately to the provisional camp. IOM’s teams are working 24/7 to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to migrants, and are also providing solutions for those sleeping outside in USC through outreach teams. IOM is open to finding more sustainable solutions and is pushing for authorities to take charge of the processing and accommodation of migrants.
On 30 December, the Council of Ministers issued the decision that Lipa would be converted to an official Reception Centre, where the State authorities are in the lead and IOM provides technical support and funding, through the EU. The construction have just started and work will last a minimum 3-4 months, depending on the weather conditions.
The humanitarian situation in BiH has deteriorated dramatically after the closure of ETC Lipa on 23 December following the decision of BiH Council of Ministers, with current humanitarian and protection needs of migrants and asylum seekers exceeding the response capacity. In addition, densely populated centres are aggravating protection and health risks of migrants and asylum seekers residing in the active Temporary Reception Centres (TRC), particularly considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to 2020, official capacity has been reduced from 8,282 to 3,540 beds by the closure of TRC Bira and ETC Lipa in the last quarter of 2020. IOM placed additional beds and increased the capacity in TRC Miral and Blazuj to accommodate more than 1,000 and 3,000 persons respectively in each centre.
At present, around 982 migrants and asylum-seekers are stranded at the location of the former camp Lipa, subject to immediate safety, health and protection risks, further aggravated by continuous snowfalls and temperatures below zero. Given the seriousness of the situation and the continuous appeal from the UN, the EU and other humanitarian actors to intervene, former residents of ETC Lipa were temporarily accommodated in tents set up by the BiH Army and assisted by IOM, the BiH Red Cross and other humanitarian actors, under the supervision of the BiH Service for Foreigners’ Affairs (SFA), after BiH Federal Authorities decided to set up a provisional camp near the former Emergency Tent Camp. Conditions at the site are very precarious for inadequate water, lack of electricity and sewage connection, very low temperatures and surrounding minefields. An estimated 8,400 persons are present in BiH, around 5,900 are in IOM managed reception facilities while 2,500 migrants and asylum-seekers live in squats in forests and abandoned buildings throughout BiH, without access to basic shelter and services, on the verge of an epidemiological and humanitarian catastrophe.