Switzerland’s response to migration crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina


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Position, 10.01.2019

The high number of stranded migrants, the lack of shelters and harsh winter conditions have created a serious challenge for a small country with limited accommodation and financial capacities such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. Switzerland supports several humanitarian projects targeting migrants as well as the local population providing them with clean water access, food and basic healthcare.

The Red Cross of the Federation of BiH, supported by Switzerland, provided food to migrants in Bihać.
The Red Cross of the Federation of BiH, supported by Switzerland, provided food to migrants in Bihać. Migration Crisis in BiH

While Bosnia and Herzegovina was spared during the migration crisis in 2014/15, it has become part of the route towards the EU since the beginning of 2018. The Balkan migration route shifted westward as a result of the stricter border regimes in the EU and countries of the region. Since January 2018, over 23,000 migrants, amongst them many refugees, have crossed the country. Most are trying to reach the EU.

The strongest and most dynamic migration is evident in Una-Sana Canton in the Northwest of BiH, in the cities next to the border with Croatia. The high number of stranded migrants, the lack of shelters and harsh winter conditions have created a serious challenge for a small country with limited accommodation and financial capacities. About 5,000 migrants currently residing in BiH are exposed to multiple social and protection risks. They struggle to access clean water, food and basic healthcare.

Based on the identified needs, the Swiss Government supports several humanitarian projects with CHF 440,000 targeting the stranded migrants as well as the local population. The projects are financed by the Humanitarian Aid Department of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the State Secretariat for Migration.

Financed by Switzerland, the Red Cross of the Federation of BiH and the NGO Pomozi.ba have provided food, clothing and other supplies to migrants living in reception centers and under fragile conditions.

More than 400 families with children accommodated in Hotel Sedra in the Ostrožac na Uni settlement and 113 local residents have no access to safe drinking water. The project conducted by Una Consulting and the City of Cazin aims to reduce water related health risks and ensure access to clean water for migrants as well as the host community.

The vast majority of the migrants are not entitled to get any primary health care services. Switzerland’s contribution to UNHCR helps 1,000 migrants to access adequate health services through local health care institutions and the provision of medical equipment and medicine will improve the health status of the migrants and reduce the risk of the possible spreading of disease.

More about the Switzerland’s response to migration crisis (PDF, 1.1 MB, Inglese)