Bosnia and Herzegovina
As new routes open in the northern Balkans, more than 4,000 migrants and refugees are currently sheltering in informal camps and squats along the Bosnian border with Croatia.
This is a new situation for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which before 2018 had not seen significant numbers of people transiting through the country as part of the so-called Balkan route.
They are coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and beyond. Their objective, as for all along the Balkan route, is to flee conflict and poverty in their countries of origin and search for better living conditions for them and their families.
Living conditions in the informal settlements remain alarmingly inadequate, especially as winter looms, and we expect people will be faced with the same cycle of problematic issues that have plagued other spots along the Balkan route.
Our activities in 2020 in the Balkans
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020; staff and expenditure figures, and description and data on activities covers both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
From January to March, MSF ran a clinic in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, offering general healthcare, mental health services and social support for vulnerable people. We also provided general and mental healthcare to migrants arriving in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In both locations, our teams offered care to victims of physical violence reportedly perpetrated by Croatian and Hungarian border guards and authorities. Also, we provided assistance to people whose health had been affected by poor living conditions, significant gaps in medical assistance and a lack of food, shelter, clean clothes and hygiene facilities.
In the first months of the year, the COVID-19 pandemic led to extensive lockdowns in the region, which had an impact on our activities and the people we were assisting. With temperatures dropping and the number of COVID-19 cases increasing, migrants living outside the official accommodation system were transferred to camps, where they were forced to stay.
In December, we returned to the region to deliver care through mobile clinics to people stranded close to the border areas and to victims of violence.