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News 13 Dec 17

Bosnia Marks Rise in Illegal Border Crossings

New figures show that Bosnia and Herzegovina is becoming a popular transit country for refugees and migrants who are trying to enter the European Union illegally.

Mladen Lakic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Bosnian border: Photo: Flickr/Saskia Heijtjes

The Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina recorded 605 attempts of illegal border crossings over 2017, with the vast majority being from high migration risk countries. This is an almost threefold increase from 2016, when 218 attempts were recorded.

“In most of the cases they are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kosovo, Turkey, Syria, Libya, Morocco and Iran, and the majority tried to enter Bosnia from Serbia and Montenegro,” Sanela Dujkovic, a border police spokesperson told BIRN.

The majority of illegal entries happened on the borders with Montenegro and Serbia.

Dujkovic said that members of the border police are trying to identify key spots on the border at which illegal crossings take place in order to prevent them from occuring.

The numbers for the last four-year period show that from 2013 (when 228 illegal border crossing attempts were uncovered) the situation was essentially stable until this year.

In 2014, the border police recorded 189 attempted illegal crossings. In 2015, when the migrant crisis started, the number was 175. Most of the people who got caught had been atempting to cross the border on foot.

“We are doing everything that is in our power to stop this trend but it will take regional cooperation between countries involved in this route,” Dragan Mektic, Minister of Security, told Federal News Agency on Sunday. 

Mektic added that although the situation does not seem dramatic, the higher numbers show that refugees and migrants are increasingly using a new, alternative route to travel from Greece, through Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia towards western Europe.

The traditional cross-Balkan route was through Macedonia and Serbia at the height of the crisis. These countries offered better travel infrastructure but have now effectively closed their borders for migrants. Refugees and migrants generally avoided going trough predominantly hilly terrains of Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia.

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