Brussels (Brussels Morning) European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, having visited the Lipa refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina, infamous for its deplorable living conditions, has called on Bosnia to improve its management of migrants if it wishes to stay on course for EU membership, Reuters.reports
“Migration is not something that will end, migration is something that always has been here and always will be here”, Johansson declared. She rejected any insinuation that the lack of an EU-level asylum policy is exacerbating the crisis along the bloc’s borders, while conceding that migration is something “all member states have to manage”.
Talking to Deutsche Welle, Johansson said a lot more could be done within the EU to manage asylum seekers, just as a lot remains to be done on Greek islands such as Lesbos. She pointed out that there were 42,000 migrants on the Greek islands when she assumed her post, while now there are only 17,000.
For many migrants, Bosnia is just a temporary stop as they attempt to enter the EU by crossing the nearby border with Croatia. However, hundreds of migrants report having been pushed back from the Croatian border and denied the right to request asylum.
Numerous human rights NGOs already investigated and reported on the abuse that the Croatian police have inflicted on migrants, yet internal investigations conducted by Croatia’s Interior Ministry have never found any irregularities.
In fact, the Croatian police rejects any independent investigation into its border patrols, and has even defied the law by refusing to provide necessary documentation as required by the Ombudswoman. Yet, NGOs have backed up their claims with medical documentation, testimonies from Bosnian local officials and police, and numerous witness accounts and testimonies by injured and abused migrants.
Dumped in Bosnia
Two Nigerian sportsmen who attended an international university tournament in Croatia in December 2019 and then went missing, were found days later in a migrant camp in Bosnia. They claimed Croatian police had picked them up believing them to be migrants and then illegally deposited them in Bosnia.
A Croatian police officer who spoke anonymously with BBC described in detail how the Croatian police is illegally performing off-the-grid, pushback operations, with officers using burner phones to arrange pickups and deliveries of migrants, and switching transponders off in their vehicles. The Interior Ministry vehemently denies all these claims, and says that not only are they untrue but that they are intended to hurt the image of Croatia and its police.
Faced with the humanitarian charges, Johansson told DW that she already held a meeting with Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović on the subject. “We are in close contact with Croatian authorities on this issue, and we are working together to set up a monitoring mechanism to make sure that these kinds of violent pushbacks do not take place”, Johansson stated.