Due to an increased number of mixed migration flows in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Commission has been in contact with EASO and the project partners 1 of the IPA funded Regional Programme “Regional Support to Protection-Sensitive Migration Management in the Western Balkans and Turkey” on how to best support the Bosnian ‘Action Plan to Combat Illegal Migration’ 2 within the scope of the project and possibly beyond.
Within that framework, an assessment mission with six EASO staff from the Department for Asylum Support and Operations took place from 30 July to 3 August in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The objective of the mission was to further assess the situation in the country and discuss the scope and modalities of EASO’s support, in cooperation with Frontex, IOM, UNHCR and EU Delegation.
After a meeting with the Bosnian authorities, UNHCR and IOM in Sarajevo, the EASO reception team travelled throughout Bosnia to visit current and future reception facilities in Delijas and Usivak (Sarajevo Canton), Salakovac (Herzegovina-Neretva Canton), Bihac and Velika Kladusa (Una-Sana Canton, at the country`s western border with Croatia). The aim of the visit was to assess the conditions on the ground, the feasibility of an increase of reception capacity in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the potential for dedicated support to the Bosnian authorities by EASO on the topic of reception conditions. EASO experts met with Bosnian officials, mobile teams from IOM, field coordinators from UNHCR and various NGO partners active in reception centres.
The reception mission visited Hotel Sedra near Bihac, which since the end of July has started to host families with children relocated from informal settlements (an abandoned dormitory in Bihac and an open field in Velika Kladusa) within the Una-Sana Canton. It will soon reach a capacity of 400, while the overall capacity in the country is expected to reach 3500 before winter. A former military camp in Usivak (near Sarajevo) will also start to host families with children from September onward after the necessary work and rehabilitation is completed by IOM.
The EASO reception team is currently assessing the modalities of its intervention, which will focus on expert support based on EASO standards and indicators for reception for the capacity building and operational running of the reception facilities in Bihac (Hotel Sedra) and Ušivak.
In parallel, the EASO experts participating in the mission focusing on registration, access to asylum procedure and identification or persons with special needs visited reception facilities in Delijas and Salakovac as well as two terrain centres of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, namely in Sarajevo and Pale. Meetings with the Ministry of Security’s asylum sector allowed for discussions on possible upcoming actions and capacity building support. The aim would be to increase registration and build staff capacity and expertise in these areas.
Currently, the support provided by EASO within the current IPA project is limited to participation to regional activities on asylum and the roll-out of national training module sessions on Inclusion and Interview Techniques. This assessment mission would allow EASO to deliver more operational and tailor made capacity building and technical support to Bosnia and Herzegovina in managing migration flows. These potential additional actions would have an impact on the capacity of the country for registration, reception and referral of third-country nationals crossing the border and will complement the special measure adopted by the European Commission in August 2018. The scope and modalities of the actions are now under discussions with the relevant stakeholders and will be implemented swiftly, once agreed by the Bosnian authorities and the EU Delegation.
 The project partners of the IPA project are EASO, Frontex, UNHCR and IOM.
 The Action Plan was prepared by the Bosnian authorities and submitted to DG NEAR at the end of May 2018 identifying needs and potential support.