Bosnia warns EU it won’t be held hostage over migrant crisis

Bloc demands better conditions for migrants living in Lipa camp near Croatian border

epa09022044 Migrants in Lipa camp in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 18 February 2021. According to the latest official data, there are currently more than 6,000 migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who entered illegally in an attempt to reach some of the countries of Western Europe, mostly Germany, Italy and Austria.  EPA/FEHIM DEMIR

Bosnia told the European Union it would not be held hostage over the migrant crisis as the two sides clashed over the fate of refugees in the country.
A senior EU official warned Bosnia to uphold the human rights of migrants living in poorly equipped camps.

Bosnia hit back, telling the EU it was prepared to play a role in addressing the crisis but would not be held hostage.

epa09022036 A migrant cooks food in Lipa camp in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 18 February 2021. According to the latest official data, there are currently more than 6,000 migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who entered illegally in an attempt to reach some of the countries of Western Europe, mostly Germany, Italy and Austria.  EPA/FEHIM DEMIR

The Balkan country, which the bloc is helping with funding and aid, is struggling to cope with the influx an estimated 6,000 people trying to reach EU member nations.

In December, a humanitarian crisis unfolded in a camp at Lipa, near the border of EU member Croatia, where hundreds of people were living in freezing conditions.
Touring the camp on Friday, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson urged Bosnia to improve living conditions for the migrants.

"Even if you don't have the right to stay, you have the right to be treated according to your dignity," Ms Johansson said. "People in need of international protection must be given this protection.
"It is also the EU's role globally to show that we respect fundamental rights."
Zoran Tegeltija, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said his country was prepared to "be a partner in controlling migration" but should not be "held hostage to this crisis".
"Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready to be a dormitory to the migrants," he said.

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