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Bosnia to close makeshift migrant camp on Croatia's border

Bosnian officials said Friday they will close a makeshift tent camp in the northwest of the country where hundreds of migrants are stranded despite snow and freezing weather.

Bosnia’s security minister, Dragan Mektic, said the Vucjak camp on the border with Croatia will be closed early next week and the migrants will be relocated to other camps outside the region.

International aid organizations have repeatedly warned the camp is unfit for migrants because it is located on a former landfill and close to a mine field from the 1992-95 war. The camp has no running water or toilets, and conditions have worsened further after snow fell this week.

Surrounded by migrants, Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights addresses the media at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. Mijatovic has demanded immediate closure of the migrant camp where hundreds of people have started refusing food and water to protest dismal living conditions as wintry weather sets in. (AP PhotoDarko Bandic)

Top European human rights official on Friday demanded the immediate closure of the camp.

“The living conditions of hundreds of human beings in the improvised Vucjak camp are shameful," Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said after visiting the camp earlier this week. "That camp should have never been opened in the first place.''

She said at a news conference in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, that it is now urgent to relocate the migrants and provide them with "decent accommodation."

A group of migrants stand amid snow covered tents at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. A top European human rights official has demanded immediate closure of a migrant camp in Bosnia where hundreds of people have refused food and water to protest lack of protection in snowy and cold weather. (AP PhotoDarko Bandic)

“Many people lack adequate clothing and footwear,'' she said. ”It is inhumane and unacceptable to keep people in such conditions.''

Bosnian authorities have struggled to accommodate thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Migrants come into Bosnia from neighboring Serbia or Montenegro. Most of them have flocked to the northwestern corner of the Balkan country because it borders European Union member state Croatia.

A migrant steps out of a tent at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. A top European human rights official has demanded immediate closure of a migrant camp in Bosnia where hundreds of people have refused food and water to protest lack of protection in snowy and cold weather. (AP PhotoDarko Bandic)

A migrant stands next to a snow covered tent at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. A European human rights official has demanded immediate closure of a migrant camp in Bosnia where hundreds of people have started refusing food and water to protest dismal living conditions as wintry weather sets in. (AP PhotoDarko Bandic)