The number of refugee and migrant arrivals to Bosnia and Herzegovina during 2018 has significantly increased, with over 8000 arrivals recorded since the beginning of the year compared to 755 arrivals in 2017.
Many are trying to transit through Bosnia and Herzegovina to enter the EU by crossing into Croatia; however, many also remain in the country. UNHCR estimates that between 3 000 and 3 500 people were present in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of July 2018.
Due to limited institutional capacities to accommodate vulnerable people and families, the provision of adequate accommodation and services is difficult. Unaccompanied and separated children are particularly vulnerable in this sense. Many refugees and migrants camp in open air or take shelter in disused buildings in the areas bordering Croatia, where there are few or no sanitary facilities.
The government reception sites offer limited reception capacity and are located far from the migratory route. For the past months the basic assistance such as food, shelter, and basic health care has been provided by the civil society and international organisations. However, their capacities were overstretched. In May 2018, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina officially requested assistance from the EU.
Since the beginning of the influx of refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU has been working closely with the Bosnian authorities, UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations to meet the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable refugees and migrants.
The European Commission has allocated €1.5 million in humanitarian aid in the beginning of June 2018 to provide emergency assistance, which is carried out by international humanitarian organisations. This emergency response addresses the needs of the refugees and migrants present in particular in the Bihac region in the north west of Bosnia and Herzegovina where the needs are most acute. The assistance covers food provision, water, emergency shelter, sanitation, health assistance, warm clothing and protection services.
In June, a new reception facility funded by European Union started accommodating families with children in the Bihac region; it will provide dignified shelter to around 500 people.
The EU regularly consults the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina on its medium and long-term strategy to address the needs of the refugees and migrants.