Escape to Europe

Caritas improves the living conditions of refugees stranded in Bosnia-Herzegovina

More than 10,000 people on their way to Western Europe are stuck in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The refugees and migrants are living in appalling conditions. With the onset of winter and the COVID-19 pandemic, their situation has further deriorated. Caritas Switzerland is supporting the assistance provided by Caritas Bosnia-Herzegovina.


The length of the EU’s external border between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia is 923 kilometres. It is strictly guarded, with a restrictive migration policy. As a result, people making their way on land to seek protection in Western Europe often find themselves trapped in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  In 2020 alone, the Bosnian authorities have registered more than 12 000 new arrivals. Currently, around 6000 asylum seekers and refugees are accommodated in reception centres and other formal shelters. In addition, about 4000 people are estimated to be living in illegally occupied dwellings, camping in the open or travelling through the country.

Many camps and centres are overcrowded, the shelters do not provide enough protection against the cold or heat, the hygiene situation is disastrous. Large quantities of food and basic essentials are needed, the medical services are overwhelmed by the number of patients. Jointly with the EU, the UN and various NGOs, the local authorities are trying to cope with the situation.


Food, clean clothes and protection against COVID-19

Caritas Switzerland is improvind the living conditions of migrants and refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina. With its local partner Caritas Bosnia, Caritas Switzerland is supporting 1000 vulnerable people to meet their basic needs and protect themselves and others from transmission of COVID-19: With laundry services inside and outside reception centres, as well as hand-washing stations at distribution points, we are working to substantially improve the health and hygiene situation. Furthermore, Caritas is distributing 5000 food parcels. It is providing appropriate clothing, personal hygiene items and sleeping bags, especially outside the already overcrowded reception centres, where migrants cannot expect any other support. Caritas also supports a local organisation in running meeting points where people cannot only rest, socialise and drink hot tea, they also receive information on the prevention of COVID-19.

The situation is volatile and unpredictable. In order to be able to meet the most urgent needs of the refugees as effectively as possible, the aid is constantly adapted to local developments. Caritas coordinates its work closely with the local authorities, the UN and other NGOs.


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