Refugees in Bosnia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

After a decade working with populations affected by the Balkan wars, we ended our work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2001. In 2018, we returned to assist migrants and refugees escaping war and persecution in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

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.

MSF in the Balkans in 2020 In 2020, thousands of migrants and refugees attempted to cross the Balkans in the hope of reaching other European destinations, despite illegal pushbacks and reports of increasing border violence.
Map of MSF activities in 2020 in the Balkans

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.  


Thousands of migrants trapped ahead of Bosnian winter.
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Beaten, cold, sick and stranded: migrants and asylum seekers in Bosnia

Project Update 15 Nov 2019
New Balkan migration route through Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Push-backs, violence and inadequate conditions at the Balkan route’s new frontier

Project Update 17 Aug 2018
Bosnia and Herzegovina

MSF releases case study that reveals the organisation’s dilemmas to position itself in the face of the Srebrenica events

Report 1 Jul 2015
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Vital questions unanswered by Dutch inquiry into Srebrenica massacre

Press Release 30 Jan 2003
Bosnia and Herzegovina

The lesson of Srebrenica: take protection of local populations seriously

Press Release 9 Apr 2002
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Draw the right conclusions from Srebrenica

Opinion 9 Apr 2002