The transfer of 900 migrants from the Lipa camp in Bosnia’s northwest to a barracks in the southern village of Bradina failed on Wednesday and police are returning the migrants, who spent the night in buses, to the burnt-down camp that was shut down last week.
Eleven buses arrived at camp Lipa in the afternoon on Tuesday to relocate the migrants to the facility which is owned by Bosnia’s Armed Forces, said Bosnia’s Security Minister, Selmo Cikotic.
However, the Finance Minister, Vjekoslav Bevanda, pointed out that the Council of Ministers did not adopt such a decision and accused Cikotic of disrespecting procedures.
Locals in Bradina gathered on Tuesday around the barracks to block the accommodation of the migrants there and the government of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNK) also adopted a conclusion saying that the decision to transfer the migrants to Bradina was not in accordance with procedures as local authorities were not consulted.
The migrants had to leave the buses on Wednesday are are now being returned to Lipa.
The migrants staying at the Lipa camp had no access to electricity, running water or sewage. The camp also did not provide shelter from the extreme weather conditions in the winter.
This is why the IOM decided to pull out and the camp was shut down on Wednesday.
As the migrants were leaving, a fire broke out at the camp, destroying most of the tents.
Bosnia’s Council of Ministers approved last week an initiative to officially establish the Lipa camp, which would consist of adapted shipping containers able to house 1,500 migrants in the Bihac area.
However, according to the IOM, the works cannot be conducted while the migrants are still there.
The BiH Security Ministry then asked authorities in the northwestern Una-Sana Canton (USK) to reopen the Bira migrant reception centre in the nearby town of Bihac.
Bira was shut down in late September due to pressure from the local population.
USK authorities said they will not allow the transfer of the migrants to Bira, while locals in Bihac are patrolling the entrance to the centre saying they will block any attempts to accommodate migrants there.
Heavy snowfall made the situation worse on Saturday, causing fears that people could start dying at Lipa.