“Chaos reigns” for migrants in Bosnia-Herzegovina and “the little ones suffer”, the cardinal of Sarajevo has deplored.

Driving the news

Cardinal Vinko Puljic was speaking at a meeting Wednesday of Caritas Bosnia-Herzegovina and Caritas Croatia.

That was just as local authorities in the town of Bihac, in the northwest of Bosnia near the Croatian border, cut off the water supply to the nearby Vucjak migrant camp.

Bihac mayor Suhret Fazlic said he was taking the drastic step in order to put pressure on the Bosnian government to move some of Vucjak’s 1,000 migrants to other areas of the country.

Just last week, police rounded up hundreds more migrants and brought them to Vucjak, where other refugees – mostly from Afghanistan – also end up after being pushed back at the Croatian border.

The UN is warning of a possible “humanitarian emergency” at the overcrowded camp, which is built on toxic landfill and is also close to a minefield from the Bosnian war.

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Go deeper

“There are houses burnt down, rapes and thefts”, decried Puljic.

“Speaking of migrants in Bosnia Herzegovina is a problem, because there is no authority in charge of all the facilities nor a clear idea about what to do”, the cardinal denounced.

Puljic expressed his reservations over the role played by Bosnian Interior Minister Dragan Mektic, both for the episode in the Vucjak camp and for the deterioration of the migrant crisis in Bosnia since Mektic took office in 2015.

“It is a very delicate security process, [and] sometimes the migrants who really need help are manipulated”, the cardinal warned.

“The problem of migrants is not an issue that Bosnia Herzegovina can solve on its own, neither can Europe.

“It is a problem that should be addressed more seriously, not dumped on the smaller [countries], but reviewed at higher levels”, Puljic insisted.

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Why it matters

At the meeting of Caritas Bosnia-Herzegovina and Caritas Croatia, Caritas Croatia President Bishop Josip Mrzljak admitted that the migrant crisis is overwhelming Croatia too.

Pope Francis appealed to nations “to take in all the needy people, especially those who are fleeing their native countries”, Mrzljak admitted, but he said that challenge was proving too great for Croatian authorities.

“In Croatia there are many more migrants than the official news shows”, the bishop warned.

“The crisis is overwhelming Caritas, though it is still trying to help everyone”, he added.

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