A letter, published on December 11th by Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, urges the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take charge of the serious humanitarian crisis that has been going on for months, especially in the Una-Sana region, where hundreds of refugees and migrants are sleeping outdoors. These events occur while the International Day for the Rights of Migrants on December 18th, as every year on the other hand, “must be yet another opportunity to open eyes and ears to these events and take a definitive position,” reiterates Brother Gioacchino Campese, President of ASCS.
“It appears that, as of October 2020, 6,770 asylum seekers and migrants are being accommodated in camps located in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is estimated that the number of those sleeping in the open or in abandoned buildings in the region of Una Sana and elsewhere in the country ranges from 2000 to 3500 people,” these are the numbers that Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe wrote down a few days ago (https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/news-2020/-/asset_publisher/Arb4fRK3o8Cf/content/bosnia-and-herzegovina-must-urgently-improve-its-migrant-reception-capacities-improve-access-to-asylum-and-protect-unaccompanied-migrant-children?_101_INSTANCE_Arb4fRK3o8Cf_viewMode=view/), supported by recent videos “stolen” at the EU’s internal and external borders and which have gone viral confirming the accusations already presented in recent years. “Those frames collected in the field do not leave too many doubts, the sequences are harsh, the screams are intolerable. Particularly striking are the clips ‘shot’ by an Afghan boy who says he hid his mobile phone in his underwear and was able to shoot them and in the end report the incident,” underlines Brother Gioacchino Campese, President of Ascs – Agenzia Scalabriniana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo.
The chain readmissions, also denounced by the ICS (Italian Consortium of Solidarity – Refugee Office of Trieste) “with which refugees are illegally deported to Bosnia from the Italian-Slovenian border have the effect of exposing people to inhuman conditions and at the risk of death; they must therefore be stopped immediately.” (cf https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Bosnia-Erzegovina/Bosnia-Erzegovina-catastrofe-umanitaria-annunciata-207128) Similar events also occur in Bosnia where episodes of violence and extreme use of force by the police have long been reported.
As Scalabrinian missionaries, on the occasion of the International Day for the Rights of Migrants 2020, we repeat that it is not acceptable to remain silent once more about these violent pushbacks, used, in fact, as the main if not the only “border control tool” with the European states. The European Commission and the member states of the EU, including Italy, must urgently guarantee full compliance with the most basic rules of EU and international law, currently trampled on and ignored in practice.
Rome, December 18, 2020
Press office of the Scalabrinian Missionaries