‘Brawl’ at migrant camp in Bosnia kills two, injures 18

Clashes as Bosnian authorities empty a migrant reception centre in Bihac and move hundreds to a camp 50km away.

bosnia map

Two migrants were killed and 18 injured in a brawl in northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina as regional authorities emptied a migrant reception centre in the town of Bihac and moved hundreds to a camp 50 kilometres (30 miles) away.

The incident on Wednesday involved migrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan fighting each other, according to Ale Siljdedic, spokesman for the Bihac regional police.

Siljdedic told local media on Thursday all the killed and injured migrants are from Pakistan.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the clashes, but the migrants’ long journeys and uncertain futures often lead to tensions.

Bosnia has become a key transit route for migrants and refugees from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa since European Union countries shut their borders to new arrivals in 2015.

Many migrants have made their way to Bosnia’s northwest hoping to slip into EU member Croatia just across the border.

There are currently up to 10,000 migrants in Bosnia. A quarter of those sleep rough in the woods, abandoned buildings and by roadsides, eager to move on westwards from a country with few resources to provide for their essential needs.

Regional authorities in northwest Bosnia have begun closing migrant centres in towns, saying they are overcrowded and other regions in the country should share the load.

On Wednesday night, they moved 350 people from Bihac to the Lipa camp, which was already full with some 1,000 people.

The newcomers were dropped outside the camp, leaving them to spend the night in the cold, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which operates seven camps in Bosnia.

Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher Jelena Sesar said in a statement on Thursday: “The Bosnian authorities’ decision, which has left hundreds of people to roam the streets and forests looking for shelter while a fully equipped centre sits empty, defies belief.

“As temperatures drop, the authorities should be taking steps to ensure refugees and migrants are able to cope this winter, rather than playing politics with their lives. To do so is not only inhumane but could have catastrophic consequences.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies