For a week now, local authorities have continued the transfer of people on the move staying in Bihać, BiH to the new jungle-camp located in Vučjak.
For a week now, people are removed from the town, while walking in the street or sleeping in their beds, by police patrol around the city.
For a week now, groups are spared if they don’t walk together, making them even more vulnerable.
For a week now, people staying in town are afraid to walk in the street, afraid of being taken by the police, afraid of being mistreated, afraid of being beaten.
For a week now, this fear has been palpable; a collective feeling, just like the fatigue, just like the distress, just like the pain.
For a week now, people are left in the middle of nowhere; amongst wilderness, amongst snakes, amongst mines.
For a week now, people feel that they are treated as animals, as if they were no longer considered as human beings, but rather a pest which needs to be controlled.
This “camp”, if we can call it so, has not improved in its short existence. Two water tanks have been added. A power generator has been on service a few hours a day, allowing the people forced to inhabit this place the chance to charge their phones for 20 minutes each. Several hours of lighting are provided at night. Who can call this a success?
For a week now, medical care has been limited, if not absent, on a daily basis.
For a week now, people lack access toilets and showers.
For a week now, people have suffered under skin diseases linked to the lack of hygiene and the living conditions.
For a week now, people have food provided twice a day; their meals composed of a yogurt, two pieces of bread, two pieces of butter, and a can of fish or vegetables.
For a week now, people do not don’t know what will happen to them, since there is limited information provided, no registration for anything.
Last week authorities from the Una-Sana Canton in Bosnia-Herzegovina opened a camp to transfer the people on the move living outside of the over-capacity camp facilities in Bihać. They moved them to a field eight kilometers away which lacks any of the basic infrastructure needed to ensure the well-being of vulnerable people. For eight days, law-enforcement teams have patrolled the city, hunting people on the move to bring them to this place. On the first day, 282 people were transferred to this field where, at the time, there only four tents were raised and three water tanks were in place to provide drinking water. The people who were brought there did not receive food, nor medical care, despite many of them receiving injured from police during the raids earlier in the day. The next day food was provided once and then, in the following days, twice, in limited quantity. Who can call this progress?
The Red Cross is the only organization currently providing services, with limited abilities.*
This treatment is degrading towards people on the move and moreover, the use of force by the authorities to relocate people to this place has been disproportionate
- We would like to include an important point made by Stefan Von Ortenburg:
“With respect to your sentence “The Red Cross is the only organization currently providing services, with limited abilities.” one has to add, that Red Cross was the only organization who supported the move of the people to this hostile environment.
It’s hard to understand, why the Red Cross supported the erection of the Vučjak camp. Independence from government and authorities is one of the main principles of the Red Cross worldwide.
The Red Cross should have enough own expertise in order to judge by themselves, that this location is unsuitable. At least after hearing the arguments of UN and EU who desperately wanted to prevent the fatal decision, the Red Cross should have refrained from providing services, that were enabling the move.
Without engagement of the Red Cross the whole Vučjak project probably would not have happened. People would either stay where they have been and where they have been supplying themselves on their own. Or sometime later people would move to a suitable accomodation center, that could have been built using the 13 mio euros, promised by the EU for this purpose. This reasonable solution however is out of sight, now that the EU withdrew the funds in the controversy about Vučjak.
By playing an active role while enabling the camp in Vučjak Red Cross becomes guilty. They are just functioning as a subordinate service provider for the authorities, not as a humanitarian NGO.”