Today, the European Commission announced €4.5 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to help vulnerable refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina access comprehensive health and protection assistance. This brings EU humanitarian assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina to €10.3 million since 2018.
The funding forms part of an EU support package amounting to more than €3.3 billion mobilised jointly with the European Investment Bank to help citizens in the Western Balkans. This overall package aims to address the immediate health and resulting humanitarian needs of the coronavirus pandemic as well as help with the social and economic recovery.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “We have a special responsibility to assist in this pandemic our partners in the Western Balkans, as their future clearly lies in European Union. The EU is mobilising a substantial financial package, confirming the strong solidarity. Together we will overcome this crisis and recover. And beyond that, we will continue to support the region, including with the reforms needed on their EU path, as the recovery will only work effectively if the countries keep delivering on their commitments.”
Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said: “The EU continues to support the most vulnerable refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We announce today €4.5 million to help meet the humanitarian needs that are especially high now due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. We will not leave our neighbours in the Western Balkans alone.”
As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the Western Balkans have also activated the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) and have received assistance from UCPM Member States and Participating States through the delivery of equipment and repatriation of citizens.
The humanitarian funding announced today will support refugees and migrants accommodated in the EU-funded temporary reception facilities as well as those sleeping outside in inadequate conditions. It will also help hundreds of unaccompanied and separated children who are exposed to significant protection risks. Some of the funds will also help towards addressing the needs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the start of the refugee crisis, the EU has been helping refugees and migrants in need of assistance transiting through the Western Balkans. Following the emergence of the new migratory route leading through Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU has contributed so far €40.5 million to address the refugee crisis in the country.