Charities Warn up to 500 Stranded Migrants and Refugees’ Lives are at Risk Amid Bitter Winter Conditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Dec. 26, 2020)—The undersigned organizations recognize the delicate situation the authorities are facing with the closure of Lipa Emergency Tent Camp in the Una-Sana Canton in Bosnia and Herzegovina, following a devastating fire earlier this week that destroyed most of it. We want to express our deepest concern about the precarious conditions migrants and asylum seekers are currently exposed to at this location and call upon the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to act quickly to ensure the immediate safety and protection of those at risk.

With the recent heavy snowfalls and temperatures below freezing, up to 500 people currently stranded at the location of the former camp face safety, health, and protection risks. The structures still existing at the location are unsafe and at risk of collapsing, as snowfall continues. With no heating at the site, frostbite, hypothermia, and other severe health problems are already being reported by those stranded at the location. Despite the efforts of humanitarian actors to provide emergency assistance, their lives are at immediate risk.

Humanitarian agencies have been warning about the risks migrants and asylum seekers would be exposed to unless adequate shelter solutions were identified, underlining the unsustainability of the Lipa Emergency Tent Camp during winter. Despite our collective best efforts and readiness to immediately support any viable alternative, no solution, temporarily or otherwise, was proposed by the authorities until now.

An alternative solution must be found immediately. It is up to the authorities to provide minimum protection for those stranded outside reception centers in deteriorating winter conditions. This includes those stranded at the Lipa location but also the estimated 2,000 others, forced to try and survive in abandoned buildings and make-shift camps. Failing to act with the utmost urgency will put lives at risk. The undersigned agencies reiterate their readiness to support the authorities’ efforts in finding safe and protective alternative solutions, and to urgently organize the provision of assistance. 

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