Bosnia and Herzegovina: Population movement emergency appeal n° MDRBA011 – Final report – Bosnia and Herzegovina

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  • December 2018: An emergency appeal in the amount of 3,311,347 million francs was published for twelve months to provide assistance and support to up to 7,600 migrants while supporting and strengthening the efforts of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Red Cross.

  • In early September 2019, the RCSBiH formally requested the IFRC to extend the emergency appeal for a further 12 months, in line with the evolving situation on the ground, increased arrivals and growing needs for assistance. of CR.

  • In October 2019, a joint multi-sectoral and risk assessment of IFRC and RCSBiH was carried out and the results of the assessment were used to prioritize needs and make a decision on the emergency appeal.

  • November 2019: The revised emergency appeal has been launched, reflecting the needs of a growing number of people to assist, a budget increased to 3.8 million francs to help a total of 35,000 people on the move in the crisis ongoing migration and 1,500 households among the local populations. vulnerable population affected by the crisis. The emergency appeal has been extended until December 8, 2020.

  • February 2020: Based on continuous needs assessments conducted since the start of the operation and due to the changing context and deteriorating conditions on the ground, it was decided to extend the emergency appeal until the end of December 2021. Minor changes have been introduced in the operating budget. However, the total funding needs of the Flash Appeal remained unchanged.

  • December 2021: extension of the emergency appeal approved for three months, until March 31, 2022 • March 2022: final evaluation carried out to assess the relevance, effectiveness and coherence of the appeal, the general objective being inform ongoing and future IFRC programming, resource mobilization, recommendations and lessons learned from ongoing and future operations. The final evaluation report will be published shortly via www.ifrc.org.

A. ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION

Description of the crisis

The Balkan countries experienced a large influx of migrants in 2015 and 2017. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), however, not being located on the main migration route, was only marginally affected at this time. Since the beginning of 2018, the country has seen a significant increase in the number of arrivals (a total of 24,067 arrivals recorded in 2018), with migrants arriving via Albania, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia. Entry points into BiH were in the regions of Trebinje, Foča, Višegrad, Zvornik and Bijeljina in Republika Srpska (RS) and Goražde in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). The majority of those arriving were heading towards Tuzla and Sarajevo to Una-Sana Canton (USC) and seeking to enter the European Union (EU) via Croatia. The total number of arrivals since 2018 stood at almost 86,100 in March 2022.

Most of those arriving said they were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh, Egypt, among others. Accommodation capacities were limited in six official temporary reception centers (CRTs) with limited capacity, consequently a majority of migrants remained outside formal accommodation, squatting in abandoned buildings, forests and makeshift camps. An emergency appeal was launched in December 2018 to provide assistance to migrants housed in CVRs and migrants on the move, as well as host communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Given the increase in the number of arrivals (registered and unregistered) to the country in 2019-2020, strict border controls between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina which slowed down movement along the route, aggravating conditions on the ground during winter periods and also due to limited access to sufficient food, water, health services, sanitation facilities and appropriate shelter, the need for continued assistance to being provided by mobile teams of the Red Cross of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RCSBiH) was increasingly important.

In response to the growing tensions and the steady increase in the arrival of migrants, following the decision of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bihac City Council and the Mayor held an extraordinary session on April 4, 2019, demanding the closure/transfer of Bira TRC to cope with the evolution of the crisis. One of the city council’s conclusions was that the Bira facility could no longer be used as a CRT for migrants, that it should be closed, and that migrants should be relocated out of the Bihać urban area. On April 10, 2019, the USC government in a special session approved all recommendations from Bihac City Council and the Mayor of Bihac. Following the session, the government requested the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the IOM to relocate the migrants staying in the residential areas, namely Bira TRC in Bihać and Miral TRC in Velika Kladuša (both in USC) and find another location outside of populated/residential areas within 30 days. In May, Una-Sana Township authorities relocated migrants and refugees residing in open spaces and private accommodation in Bihac to a new location identified by Bihac City Council as “Vučjak”. The UN and other actors expressed their deep concern over this decision and called on the authorities to immediately halt this relocation until a more suitable place is available. For a detailed description of the event from this period and the Red Cross Red Crescent assistance provided to Vucjak, please see Operation Updates #2, #3 and #4. “Vucjak” was finally closed on December 11, 2019, with most people being moved by bus to Sarajevo, TRC Ušivak on a temporary basis and TRC Blažuj. Despite the visit of European parliamentarians at the end of January 2020, the USC authorities were still calling for the closure of the Bira and Miral CVRs to deal with the evolution of the migrant crisis.

The situation has further deteriorated due to the COVID-19 pandemic with restrictive measures which have exacerbated the needs and vulnerabilities of migrants and impacted the socially vulnerable local population. Ensuring an effective response operation during the COVID-19 pandemic required significant readjustments, both in terms of programming and duty of care towards targeted individuals, volunteers and staff. Despite general restrictions and challenges ranging from procuring adequate personal protective equipment to ensuring social distancing in crowded environments, RCSBiH has managed to deliver the planned services to migrants taking all necessary precautions.

On March 25, 2020, an order was issued prohibiting migrants from entering or exiting CVRs. At that time, the local USC authorities were in the final phase of setting up the new “Lipa” camp (near a village between Bihać and Bosanski Petrovac) where all the migrants who were outside of Other existing camps would reside in order to have disease transmission contained as much as possible among the moving migrant population. In the new camp “Lipa” the first residents were received on April 21, 2020. Due to the situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, special areas were provided for isolation and accommodation. Lipa Camp (in Una-Sana-USC Township) was set on fire after IOM withdrew from the camp on December 23, 2020. The situation became tense and protests by the local population took place to prevent the reopening of TRC Bira in USC. The Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina provided tents in the Lipa camp for the accommodation of migrants. The RCSBiH mobilized all its efforts immediately after the fire to save lives and meet the basic needs of migrants in the camp, with particular emphasis on the provision of food, hot drinks, first aid services, clothing winter products and basic hygiene products. On January 8, 2021, the RCSBiH took over the BiH Armed Forces tents at the Lipa site. At the end of 2021, the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina (MoS) gradually took over the coordination role and responsibility for the management of the migration crisis, the organizations and agencies that work with the crisis of population movements in Bosnia and Herzegovina will need to be pre-approved and coordinated through new systems being developed by the MoS. For a detailed description of events in Lipa, later transformed into the temporary Lipa Visitor Center (opened November 19, 2021), please see Operations Update no. 5-9. A summary of the assistance by RCSBiH and its partners (including in Lipa) is described below.

Migration flows in Bosnia and Herzegovina continued in 2020 (only in 2020 there were more than 26,000 arrivals in Bosnia and Herzegovina) and in 2021, although the number of new arrivals decreased compared to previous years. The Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina is gradually assuming responsibility for the overall situation related to the management of migration crises in the country. The political situation in BiH and neighboring countries has changed and led to a decrease in new arrivals due to tighter controls at the Croatian border, which has resulted in migrants losing interest in the BiH route. The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has also resulted in border closures and movement restrictions.

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