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Bosnia: Hundreds of migrants grappling with freezing temperatures in makeshift shelters

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By Mark Armstrong with AP
Bosnia: Hundreds of migrants grappling with freezing temperatures in makeshift shelters
Copyright  Kemal Softic/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Hundreds of migrants in northwest Bosnia still sleeping rough in freezing temperatures that forecasters say could fall as low as -15C.

Individuals and families, some with small children, are stranded near the border to Croatia, often used as the gateway to Europe.

"The situation is very bad," explained Muhammad Khan from Afghanistan. "The weather is very cold. We have no water. Here, it is very dirty. For cooking, we have a problem. With everything we have a problem."

Under international pressure, Bosnian authorities have erected heated tents for several hundred people stuck in a burnt-out camp in the area.

But hundreds more are staying in makeshift tents and abandoned houses, without heating or any other facilities, keeping warm as best they can in freezing temperatures.

"Last night was very cold, we are suffering very much," said Shahin, a mechanic from Bangladesh, who is staying in a small tent in a forest near the border village of Velika Kladusa. "I didn't sleep last night," he added.

Some migrants have been sleeping rough for months while attempting to cross into Croatia multiple times. There have been accusations of heavy-handed treatment from the Croatian border police.

Bosnia's often-chaotic response to the migrant crisis has drawn international criticism and warnings from humanitarian groups that both the Balkan country and the EU must find a durable solution for the people trying to reach wealthy Western nations.