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In Bosnia, refugees stuck in a country its own people leave

A covered-up landfill in a mine-infested part of a dysfunctional Balkan state whose own people are emigrating in droves might not seem ideal for a refugee camp. But local authorities in Bihac, a Bosnian city of 50,000, had little choice.

Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck on the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Until the camp's opening last week at Vucjak, 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the border with European Union-member Croatia, thousands of migrants — mostly single men — were sleeping rough in Bihac and other cities in Bosnia's northwestern Krajina region.

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, migrants wait in line to receive supplies from the Red Cross at the Vucijak camp outside Bihac, Bosnia. Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck in the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. According to Bosnian government statistics, 34,000 newcomers crossed into the country since the beginning of 2018, including 9,000 who arrived in the first five months of this year. (AP PhotoAlmir Alic)

Vucjak now provides 1,000 of them with tents and Red Cross meals, but few want to stay.

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, Ramadan, a migrant from Egypt, who did not want his family name fearing for the safety of his family, pauses during an interview with the Associated Press at the Vucijak camp outside Bihac, Bosnia. Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck in the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. According to Bosnian government statistics, 34,000 newcomers crossed into the country since the beginning of 2018, including 9,000 who arrived in the first five months of this year. (AP PhotoAlmir Alic)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, migrants wait in line to receive supplies from the Red Cross at the Vucijak camp outside Bihac, Bosnia. Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck in the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. According to Bosnian government statistics, 34,000 newcomers crossed into the country since the beginning of 2018, including 9,000 who arrived in the first five months of this year. (AP PhotoAlmir Alic)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, migrants and refugees wait in line to receive supplies from the Red Cross at the Vucijak camp outside Bihac, Bosnia. Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck in the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. According to Bosnian government statistics, 34,000 newcomers crossed into the country since the beginning of 2018, including 9,000 who arrived in the first five months of this year. (AP PhotoAlmir Alic)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, migrants and refugees wait in line to receive supplies from the Red Cross at the Vucijak camp outside Bihac, Bosnia. Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck in the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. According to Bosnian government statistics, 34,000 newcomers crossed into the country since the beginning of 2018, including 9,000 who arrived in the first five months of this year. (AP PhotoAlmir Alic)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, migrants and refugees wait in line to receive supplies from the Red Cross at the Vucijak camp outside Bihac, Bosnia. Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck in the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. According to Bosnian government statistics, 34,000 newcomers crossed into the country since the beginning of 2018, including 9,000 who arrived in the first five months of this year. (AP PhotoAlmir Alic)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, migrants and refugees wait in line to receive supplies from the Red Cross at the Vucijak camp outside Bihac, Bosnia. Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck in the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. According to Bosnian government statistics, 34,000 newcomers crossed into the country since the beginning of 2018, including 9,000 who arrived in the first five months of this year. (AP PhotoAlmir Alic)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, migrants and refugees wait in line to receive supplies from the Red Cross at the Vucijak camp outside Bihac, Bosnia. Still deeply scarred by a brutal inter-ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia has become the chief bottleneck in the main land route for thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. According to Bosnian government statistics, 34,000 newcomers crossed into the country since the beginning of 2018, including 9,000 who arrived in the first five months of this year. (AP PhotoAlmir Alic)