Joint Press Statement on the accommodation situation for refugees and migrants in Una-Sana Canton

Saturday 26 December 2020

The undersigned organizations recognize the delicate situation the authorities are facing with the closure of Lipa Emergency Tent Camp in USC. However, the same also want to express their deepest concern about the precarious conditions migrants and asylum-seekers are currently exposed 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.

Humanitarian agencies have been alerting on 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.

With the recent heavy snowfalls and temperatures below freezing, up to 500 people currently stranded at the location of the former Lipa are at immediate safety, health and protection risk. The structures still existing at the location are unsafe and at risk of collapsing, as snowfalls continue. 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.

An alternative solution has to 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 provision of assistance. 

Danish Refugee Council

International Organization for Migration

Medecines du Monde

Save the Children