Migrants should be deported from Bosnia, the country’s security minister proposed on Thursday, alleging they pose a potential security threat and a severe economic burden amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Fahrudin Radoncic also said migrants who could not provide passports or other identification documents should be imprisoned rather than accommodated in migrant camps in Bosnia.
“[Migrants] who do not want to show their identity cards will not be allowed any more to use our migrant and refugee camps,” he said. “They will go straight to jail. And we will keep them there for one year to five years until we can establish their identity – this is our proposal for a new law.”
He provided no date for when the proposed legislation would be debated in parliament, but the country’s Service for Foreigners’ Affairs (SFA) has already begun preparing a list of those slated for deportation, Slobodan Ujic, the director of the SFA, told local news website Balkan Insight on Thursday.
Most migrants come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria and Morocco, the website reported.
Radoncic’s comments reflect growing frustration in the small Balkan country with the influx of those who are fleeing violence and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and who hope to move on towards Western Europe.
Most end up trapped in Bosnia, as Croatia, the next country on the migration route, has imposed strict border controls.
“We want to [ease] the burden of taking care of 8,000 to 9,000 people here, we just can’t handle that, especially now, with the virus situation,” Radoncic said. “We also want to psychologically discourage new migrants from coming here after the pandemic ends and borders open again.”
He said Bosnia had become “a parking lot” for migrants on their way to Western Europe, according to local media, which also reported he had asked migrants’ countries of origin for funds to pay for their deportation airfare.
Ujic told Balkan Insight that he doubted many would volunteer for repatriation: “These people have travelled thousands of kilometres, for months, and are now at the door of the European Union. They don’t want to return.”