Temporary Shelter, COVID Testing for Homeless Migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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IOM, together with Danish Refugee Council, the Red Cross and migrant volunteers have set up heated isolation tents for migrants in the Blazuj army barracks, near Sarajevo, furnished with 1,000 beds, mattresses and blankets.

The idea is to provide temporary accommodation for migrants and refugees who have previously been sleeping rough on the streets of the Bosnian capital.

Migrants will first go through a medical check-up pending registration after which they will have access to shelter, food, medical assistance and other humanitarian needs.

In mid-March, the Sarajevo Canton, which includes the capital and various nearby towns and villages, imposed restrictions on the movement of migrants, and ordered them into temporary reception centres as a part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

However, since the existing temporary reception centres did not have the capacity to host all the migrants located in and around the Sarajevo Canton, more capacity was needed.

A similar temporary reception centre is being built not far from the village of Lipa, in western Bosnia, in the Una-Sana Canton.

There are about 7,500 registered migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

“So far, there have been no suspected cases with pronounced symptoms, and one person referred for testing tested negative,” according to IOM spokesperson Edita Selimbegovic.

Despite that, 715 migrants and refugees in centres located in the Una-Sana Canton, in western Bosnia, are being held in isolation in special rooms as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Nermina Cemalovic, Health Minister for the canton, told the media last week.

Selimbegovic said they were not thought to be ill; they were only being kept in isolation because they had arrived in the country recently.

“Just like any citizens or foreigners arriving in Bosnia from abroad, they are kept in isolation as a precautionary measure to prevent them from bringing COVID-19 to other beneficiaries of the centres,” she said.

Some text reprinted with kind permission of Balkan Insight.