SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Bosnian officials said Friday they will close within days a makeshift tent camp in the northwest of the country where hundreds of migrants are stranded despite snow and freezing weather.
Bosnia’s security minister, Dragan Mektic, said the Vucjak camp on the border with Croatia will be closed early next week and the migrants will be relocated to other camps outside the region.
Some migrants said they will refuse to be moved further away from the border, as most intend to continue their journey to Europe's prosperous heartland by illegally crossing into European Union member Croatia.
"If they take us out of here, we will come back after one day, after one hour, one minute," Fazil Rahman, a migrant from Afghanistan, said. “We will come back here again.”
International aid organizations have repeatedly warned that the camp is unfit for migrants because it is located on a former landfill and close to a mine field from Bosnia's 1992-95 war. The site has no running water or toilets, and conditions worsened further after snow fell this week.
A top European human rights official on Friday demanded the camp's immediate closure.
Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said at a news conference in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, that it is now urgent to relocate the migrants and provide them with "decent accommodation."
“Many people lack adequate clothing and footwear,'' she said. ”It is inhumane and unacceptable to keep people in such conditions.''
Bosnian authorities have struggled to accommodate thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Migrants come into Bosnia from neighboring Serbia or Montenegro. Most of them have flocked to the northwestern corner of the Balkan country because it borders with an EU member.