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Snow brings more misery for migrants in Bosnia

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A fresh spate of snowy and very cold winter weather on Friday has brought more misery for hundreds of migrants who have been stuck for days in a burnt out camp in northwest Bosnia waiting for heating and other facilities.

The migrants at the Lipa camp site were trying to warm up around fires while caught in a blizzard on Friday as authorities scrambled to finish setting up some 20 military tents meant to accommodate them.

Some migrants didn’t even wear socks or winter jackets as they waited to receive food parcels from aid groups.

“(Since) many days ago, I did not take a shower, we do not have electricity,” said Mohammad Afsal, from Pakistan. “Please stand with us and help us, we are in a very, very bad condition!”

Bosnia has faced international criticism for leaving some 1,000 migrants without shelter after a fire engulfed the squalid Lipa refugee camp near its northwest border with Croatia last month.

Authorities first said they would move the migrants to another location but this was canceled after local residents organized protests.

Bosnia’s armed forces last week put up the new tents but they apparently were still not ready for use when the weather worsened on Friday.

This left the migrants staying in make-shift tents, in containers or under make-shift nylon covers put up in a wet and muddy field.

“It’s too cold,” Mohammad Jasar, also from Pakistan. “We have too much trouble here in (the) Lipa camp.”

Peter Van der Auweraert, the head of International Organization for Migration in Bosnia, which has managed Bosnia’s camps, tweeted on Friday that fresh snow “underscores urgency” to get the migrants in Lipa into heated accommodation.

There are thousands of migrants in Bosnia.

They are mostly concentrated in the northwest of the Balkan country because the area borders European Union member Croatia.

Migrants have complained they often face pushbacks and violence in the hands of Croatia’s police.

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