|A group of migrants attempting to cross into Croatia hold banners as they gather near the Maljevac border crossing in Velika Kladusa, Bosnia. Photo: EPA.|
The increasing number of migrants and refugees entering Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018 has raised concerns about security, especially in towns near the border with EU member state Croatia, but official data shows that they have not committed large numbers of criminal offences.
In the Una Sana Canton of northern Bosnia, which lies on the border with Croatia, 53 criminal offences have been committed by migrants out of a total of 998 offences recorded from January until September this year, Una Sana Canton police told BIRN.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Una-Sana Canton, 10,544 migrants and refugees have been registered crossing the area since the beginning of this year, 9,383 of them in the area around the main town, Bihac.
In the last two months, about 5,000 new refugees and migrants have been recorded in the town, according to local police and NGO data. The number of those who are currently in Bihac has been estimated at between 4,000 and 5,000.
Due to low capacities for accommodation for migrants and refugees, local police in the canton have banned migrants and refugees from entering the area.
Many of them have travelled from different parts of Bosnia to Bihac and the nearest border checkpoints with Croatia and the EU.
In Sarajevo Canton, where numerous migrants and refugees arrive on a daily basis, using Bosnia’s capital as a transit point towards the border areas, during the first nine months of this year, a total of 3,125 criminal offences were recorded, but migrants and refugees were reported as potential suspects in just 19 of them, Sarajevo police told BIRN.
In another two cases, migrants and refugees were victims of criminal offences.
“Our officers are doing their best to maintain the security situation on a satisfactory level in order to protect the properties and lives of all residents including migrants and refugees,” Sarajevo Canton Police told BIRN in a written statement.
From the start of the year up to October 26, just over 20,000 migrants and refugees were registered as having entered Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic.
Many of them are travelling on the new so-called ‘Balkan route’ to Western Europe, which passes through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and in some instances Serbia.