IOM in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) is located at a migration crossroad between Eastern and Western Europe. The conflict in the former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1995 destroyed the social and economic infrastructure and forced over half of citizens of BH to leave their homes. Today, the return of displaced persons and a rise in illegal migration, such as human trafficking and smuggling, make migration a major challenge for BH’s post-conflict recovery and development.
IOM initiated a mission in Sarajevo in 1992 in the basement of Koševo Hospital, setting up the MEDEVAC programme to evacuate war-wounded individuals who could not be treated locally. Following the end of the war, IOM expanded its activities to the return of refugees from abroad and to assist BH nationals resettling in third countries. Today, IOM’s programmes aim to prevent irregular migration, stop the trafficking of human beings, contribute to national development, and assist the BH Government to manage migration activities.
During the migrant and refugee crisis in 2015 - 2016, IOM - the UN Migration Agency - together with the international community, scaled up its presence in Greece and the Western Balkans, and in particular in North Macedonia and Serbia part of the so-called Western Balkan route, to support national authorities and civil society in responding to the emergency situation, and providing direct assistance and protection to migrants, particularly those most vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse, or a violation of their rights.
Following the significant increase of migrant arrivals to Bosnia and Herzegovina in late 2017, IOM, in coordination with State, Entity, cantonal and local authorities, scaled up its operations in key migrant locations across the country through the reinforcement of IOM Mobile Protection Teams. These mobile teams have been operating since June 2017, assisting migrants in vulnerable situations, providing safe transportation, interpretation services, provision of temporary and protection-sensitive accommodation, food and other necessities.
IOM Mobile Protection Teams – strategically located to be able to cover the entire migration route, from the Eastern border with Serbia and Montenegro to the North-West border with Croatia, and the main reception centres and informal settlements – performed vulnerability screenings and referred migrants to appropriate assistance and protection service providers.
Latest News and Events
The meeting started with a virtual introduction given by Mr Sacha Chan Kam, Senior Regional Migrant Protection and Assistance Specialist. The welcoming remarks by Mr Peter Van der Auweraert, Sub Regional Coordinator WB and Chief of Mission BIH followed. Then there was an overview of AVRR from the Western Balkans given by Mrs Donatella Bradic, Migration Management Team Leader followed by an open discussion. Event outlined the main opportunities and challenges in the future such as:
- To streamline return process and reinforce links with Countries of Origin
- To further embed the AVRR approach within beneficiaries' administrative structures
- To further exchange approaches to return and reintegration with other regions experiencing mixed migration flows
- To reinforce the reintegration spectrum both at individual and community level
- To strengthen return management ensuring AVRR is available – making return increasingly a choice
- Migrants set to and continue to be willing to embark on their journey to the EU
- Finding the balance between Reintegration Assistance in the EU and Reintegration Assistance back in Countries of Origin
- Keep up and maintaining-innovating the communication medium
The response to the migrant situation in BiH is being stepped up as the CEB Vice Governor and IOM Chief of Mission signed a EUR 1 million grant agreement for the opening of a reception center in Hadzici, Sarajevo. CEB Vice Governor, Rosa-Maria Sanchez Yebra, visited the center, which will host up to 400 persons.
Interview with Mr Peter Van Der Auweraert, Chief of International Organization for Migration in BiH and Sub-regional Coordinator of mentioned organization for Western Balkans
Peter Van Der Auweraert, IOM Representative in BiH and Western Balkans Sub-regional Coordinator, Mijo Kresic, Deputy Minister of Security of BiH and Nedzad Korajlic, Dean of the Faculty of Criminalistics, Criminology and Security Studies of the University of Sarajevo spoke about this issue for TV1.
In a world where more than a third of countries criminalize consensual same-sex relationships, disclosing your gender identity and sexual orientation can be extremely dangerous. For internally displaced members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) community, it can also cripple livelihoods and even be life-threatening.
The injustice that the LGBTI community faces in non-emergency settings does not simply disappear in times of crisis or when people become displaced, in fact, it is usually amplified.
LGBTI internally displaced persons face complex challenges and threats during all stages of displacement. These include discrimination, prejudice, violence, difficulty accessing humanitarian services and barriers to articulating their protection needs.
Peter Van der Auweraert, the Western Balkans Sub-regional Coordinator of the International Organization for Migration pointed out that smugglers from BiH are often part of the international criminal networks:
“Large majority of immigrants in BiH used smugglers at one point. If they didn’t, such journeys would not be possible to organize. It is hard to detect the smugglers, due to the fact that most of the smugglers routes are international ones. Those are not necessarily the routes of Bosnia, Albania, Montenegro. They are international.”
In first 2 months of 2018, 200 persons requested asylum and got free legal aid, mainly males, says NGO Your Rights. “We are acting in their behalf in the procedures of asylum seeking, we provide advice, information. If the asylum is approved, we are leading them through the procedures of realizing their refugee rights. If the MoS passes the negative decision, we are pressing charges with the Court of BiH”. The goal of each migrant is their personal thing. “It is not good to talk about their goals because we are entering the essence of individual cases. We should bare on mind that asylum process is secret”. “The Law on Foreigners and the Law on Asylum do not prescribe sanctions for providing humanitarian aid. The Law envisages sanctions to the private and physical persons who are providing accommodation to foreigners without reporting their residence. If someone has rented an apartment to the persons without documents, that one is not guilty because was not obliged to know about that”, says Your Rights.
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Za prva dva mjeseca 2018. godine 200 lica je u procesu traženja azila u BiH dobilo besplatnu pravnu pomoć u nevladinoj organizaciji „Vaša prava“, uglavnom samci muškog pola, kažu u ovoj nevladinoj organizaciji specijalizovanoj za besplatnu pravnu pomoć. „Zastupamo ih u proceduri traženja azila na način da ih savjetujemo, informišemo i pomažemo u procesu registracije i intervjua. Ako dobiju azil, vodimo ih kroz proceduru ostvarivanja izbjegličkih prava. Ako Ministarstvo sigurnosti BiH, koje je nadležno za postupak azila, donese negativnu odluku, pišemo tužbu Sudu BiH“, pojašnjavaju u „Vašim pravima“. Napominju da je cilj svakog azilanta u BiH lična stvar. „Nezahvalno je govoriti o tome šta je njihov cilj u BiH jer ulazimo u suštinu individualnih slučajeva. Treba imati u vidu da je postupak azila tajan“, kažu u „Vašim pravima“ i napominju da pružanje pomoći iregularnim migrantima i tražiteljima azila nije nezakonita radnja.
Conference on the topic of Psychological Support in the Security Sector, organized by IOM in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is being held within the project PREVENTIVA, at the UN House on 27 February 2018. Numerous security sector representatives have the opportunity to gain insights into professional and peer psychological support provided to security professionals in their everyday duties.
The projects "Cycling to Health" and "Youth Corner" youth from Gornji Rahic and Maoca presented to project committee last weekend. Guided by the fact that youth is turning to technology rather than sports, as well as lack of space for socializing, youth will strive to improve their position in the community through these two projects.