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S&Ds urge for emergency aid and long-term solution to the humanitarian crisis of migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina


19 Jan 2021


Europe's East

The Socialists and Democrats called today in the plenary for emergency support for thousands of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers who are facing a humanitarian disaster in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The dramatic situation once again shows that the EU needs a permanent, fair and lasting solution to migration challenges, based on solidarity with member states at the external borders and vulnerable people at every step of the process.

According to human rights organisations, around 2500 people, including 900 residents of a now-closed and destroyed by fire camp in Lipa in north-west Bosnia, remain without basic shelter and are struggling to survive hunger, thirst and the freezing Balkan winter.

The S&D Group continues to call for the resignation of Executive Director Leggeri in response to the serious allegations against Frontex including violations of fundamental rights and pushbacks of refugees.

Isabel Santos S&D spokesperson on human rights said:

“Assaulted, without food, water, and shelter or sanitary conditions, in the midst of a pandemic, forced to flee and often pushed to their death. The situation of thousands of migrants and refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina is dramatic, yet not isolated. We have seen the same, repeated martyrdom at other EU external borders and in other places like in Libya and Turkey.

“Clearly local authorities are failing to provide adequate accommodation. However, the EU bears its share of responsibility when it outsources migration management to third countries without guaranteeing minimum conditions, or worse - when it pushes the migrants from their borders, with the help of the Libyan and Turkish coast guards, or through the shameful action of member states border guards and possibly Frontex.

“The EU has just announced an additional €3.5 million on top of the €88 million already provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina over the last three years to help vulnerable refugees and migrants. But this is not a sustainable solution. We cannot continue reacting to the tragedy like in Lipa camp, by pouring more money on the problems. We need to implement sustainable solutions based on solidarity sharing of asylum and immigration. We also need safe migration routes and better living conditions in the countries of origin, which can be achieved by the development of political, economic and social policies.”

Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson on asylum and migration, said:

“For too many years, we have been calling for member states to adopt lasting solutions on asylum and migration policy that are based on solidarity and the fair sharing of responsibility. After years of deadlock in the Council, while the Parliament was ready to negotiate, the European Parliament is working on proposals from the Commission for a New Pact on Migration and Asylum. Despite a clear lack of solidarity in the proposals, we will do our best to make solidarity a workable reality. This is the only way to prevent unacceptable scenes like on the Greek islands or in Bosnia and Herzegovina where vulnerable people are subject to unbearable conditions, left without shelter and basic humanitarian protections, just a short distance from the EU’s external borders.

“The situation of refugees and migrants is made even worse by the constant violations of fundamental rights both in the EU and externally. In this respect, there is an urgent need to address the concerning allegations against Frontex, the EU’s border agency, and its alleged role in pushbacks. Despite repeated calls for clarification and numerous opportunities for the Agency to provide the Parliament with information, these serious allegations continue to go unanswered The S&D Group continues to call for responsibility to be taken by Executive Director Leggeri for mismanaging the situation. New leadership can only be a first step for putting Frontex back on the right course, but a fresh start and new management at the EU’s largest agency is absolutely essential.”