Hundreds of refugees from the burned-down Lipa camp in Bosnia were supposed to come to permanent accommodation inland. But the relocation failed – and people have been holding out in life-threatening conditions ever since. It is now becoming apparent that little will change in their precarious situation: As the news portal Klix.ba and other media reported on Friday, the Bosnian army is erecting new tents in Lipa for the refugees in Camp 25, which had actually been vacated and partially burned down Kilometers southeast of the city of Bihać.
It was initially unclear whether construction had started as planned by noon and how far it had progressed. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) had closed the camp a week and a half ago because the Bosnian authorities had not kept their promises to make it winter-proof. The residents should have been taken to a former army barracks near Sarajevo. Protests by local politicians and citizens, however, had prevented the buses with the people from going there in the first place.
Previously, some young men had set tents and containers on fire while evacuating the camp. Since then, numerous people have stayed outdoors in wintry weather conditions. Aid organizations provide them with makeshift food in the inhospitable area. “Lipa is almost 800 meters above sea level, and it freezes during the day too,” said IOM head of mission Peter Van der Auweraert in an interview with SPIEGEL. “I understand the frustration of local politicians and the people around here. But the human suffering that this policy causes can no longer be justified. “
On Friday, Van der Auweraert tweeted that some people had refused to accept breakfast from Red Cross helpers on New Year’s Day and again demanded that they be accommodated in better accommodations.
The ARD correspondent Andrea Beer also indicated on Twitter that a hunger strike could be announced.
The idea, supported by the EU Commission, to reopen the Bira camp in the local area of Bihać, had previously failed due to resistance from local politicians. The people were housed there before they were moved to Lipa last September because of popular protests.
In Bosnia, the mood among the population against refugees has turned since the Balkans became a transit area on the so-called Balkan route. People don’t want to stay in Bosnia. Thousands of them are stuck there because they have so far not been able to cross the border into the EU country of Croatia.