HUNDREDS of migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Morocco and Algiers, who are on their way to Europe, are stranded in forests and ruined former factory buildings near Bosnia’s border with Croatia.
They reside in their makeshift tent camp high in the woods above the town of Velika Kladusa, built of cardboard and tree branches and covered with nylon sheets, , reported Reuters.
Migrants and refugees mostly bypassed impoverished Bosnia during their mass movements across the Balkans in 2015-2016, but in recent years the country has become a key transit route after EU countries closed their borders to new arrivals.
“[There are] many problems here,” said Mahmood Abal from Bangladesh. “No rooms, no water, no medical facilities, no sanitation.”
He is one of about 500 men who were turned away from the Bosnian towns of Bihac and Velika Kladusa. Authorities are refusing to host large groups of migrants any longer and are preparing to close down some reception centres.
Sympathetic at first to the plight of the migrants, similar to their own during the war in the 1990s when they were forced to flee, Bosnians in the Krajina border region have become anxious, demanding that other regions share the burden.
But in ethnically-divided Bosnia, the Serb and Croat-dominated regions refuse to accept migrants, and so they concentrate in the Bosniak-dominated Sarajevo and Krajina.
Most migrants are smuggled to Bosnia in rubber boats over the Drina River, the natural border with Serbia, said Azur Sljivic, a Bosnian border police officer.
“Many of them drown because the Drina River is unpredictable, full of whirlpools,” said Sljivic while patrolling along the border in the eastern town of Zvornik.
Recent reports said that about 50 migrants left their Bosnian forest tents to try cross the Croatian border.
“Italy, see you soon!”, one of them shouted cheerfully.