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European rights chief Mijatovic demands closure of freezing Bosnia migrant camp

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Dunja Mijatovic spoke to migrants at the makeshift camp near near Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dunja Mijatovic spoke to migrants at the makeshift camp near near Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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A top European human rights official on Tuesday demanded the immediate closure of a make-shift tent camp in northwestern Bosnia where hundreds of migrants remain stranded despite snowy and freezing weather.

“It should be closed as we speak,” Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said while visiting the Vucjak camp near the town of Bihac.

“This is not a place for human beings,” she said.

The Vucjak camp has almost no facilities.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
A migrant washes his face in a snow covered makeshift forest camp near the Croatian border in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina.REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

International aid organisations have repeatedly warned it is unfit for migrants because it is located on a former landfill and close to a minefield from the 1992-95 war.

Already poor conditions in Vucjak have worsened further after snow fell on Monday.

Several hundred migrants who are staying in the camp on Tuesday refused food and water to protest the situation.

Fazil Rahman, from Afghanistan, said migrants don’t want the food, but want to be allowed to cross into neighbouring Croatia and move on toward Western Europe where they hope to start new lives.

Migrants come into Bosnia from neighbouring Serbia or Montenegro.

Bosnian authorities have struggled to accommodate thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Government officials have said that a new facility for migrants near Sarajevo won’t be ready for another 20 days.

In Vucjak, some tents have collapsed under the weight of wet snow as migrants tried to clear those still standing.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
Migrants try to get warmREUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Some migrants left their shoes and sneakers outside the tents, trying to keep them dry and clean amid the muddy, garbage-strewn camp.

Mijatovic, who is originally from Bosnia, said “I am really ashamed that something like this exists in my country.”

“The solution is to really close it and to make it possible for these people to survive the winter,” she said.

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