Hundreds of migrants freezing in heavy snow in Bosnia camp
BIHAC, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) - Hundreds of migrants were stranded in a burnt-out, dirty tent camp in Bosnia on Saturday when heavy snow fell in the country and winter temperatures suddenly dropped.
Migrants in the Lipa camp in northwestern Bosnia wrapped themselves in blankets and sleeping bags to protect themselves from the biting winds in the region bordering the member of the European Union, Croatia.
A fire earlier this week destroyed much of the camp near the city of Bihac, which has already been criticized by international officials and aid groups as being inadequate to accommodate refugees and migrants.
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Despite the fire, the Bosnian authorities have not found any new accommodation for the migrants in Lipa. Around 1,000 people got stuck in the cold with no facilities or heat and only ate meager food packages provided by aid groups.
"Snow has fallen, sub-zero temperatures, no heating, nothing," tweeted the head of mission of the International Organization for Migration in Bosnia, Peter Van Der Auweraert. “Nobody should live like this. We now need political courage and action. "
Bosnia has become a bottleneck for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Western Europe. Most are stuck in Bosnia's northwestern Krajina region as other areas of the ethnically divided nation have refused to accept them. The EU has warned Bosnia that thousands of migrants will face a freezing winter homeless, and has urged the country's controversial politicians to put their differences aside and take action.
On Saturday, migrants rushed to the camp to get water and food from the Red Cross in Bosnia as police tried to keep order. Some migrants wore face shields to protect them from coronavirus.
“We live like animals. Even animals live better than us! "Said a man from Pakistan who identified himself only by his first name, Kasim." If you don't help us, we will die, so please help us. "
Plans to temporarily move the migrants to a closed facility in central Bihac have sparked protests from residents.
Without a solution, migrants dropped the cardboard on the floor and erected improvised privacy barriers in the only standing tent in the Lipa camp. Some people held their wet feet over the small fires that migrants lighted outside to warm themselves, while others were wrapped in blankets for warmth. Many migrants wore sneakers despite the snow.
To get to Croatia, migrants often use illegal routes across a mountain area along the border. Many have complained about violence and setbacks by the Croatian police.
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