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After criticism, Bosnia sets up tents for freezing migrants

Trying to resolve a humanitarian disaster, the Bosnian military set up tents Friday for hundreds of migrants who have been stuck in a burned-out refugee camp that has no facilities to fend off freezing winter weather.

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 over a week ago.

The armed forces said Friday that about 150 soldiers had arrived to put up tents for the migrants, which will be run by the International Organization for Migration.

Bosnian soldiers arrive at the Lipa refugee camp outside Bihac, to erect tents for some hundreds of migrants who have been stuck in a burnt out camp in winter weather and with no facilities, in Bosnia, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Bosnia has faced international criticism leaving some 1,000 migrants practically without shelter after fire engulfed the Lipa camp near the border with Croatia last month. (AP PhotoKemal Softic)

Earlier Friday, the migrants held a protest to highlight the horrendous conditions they are facing in Bosnia. Aid groups said hundreds of migrants rejected food and held up banners calling for international help.

The authorities announced earlier this week that they would move the migrants from Lipa to a former army compound in central Bosnia but plan was rejected after local residents organized protests.

The migrants spent 24 hours in a convoy of buses, waiting to move, but ended up back in the burned-out Lipa camp instead. For the past two nights, they have lit fires to warm up at the muddy camp site.

Bosnian soldiers arrive at the Lipa refugee camp to erect tents for some hundreds of migrants who have been stuck in a burnt out camp in winter conditions and with no facilities, outside Bihac, Bosnia, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Bosnia has faced international criticism leaving some 1,000 migrants practically without shelter after fire engulfed the Lipa camp near the border with Croatia last month. (AP PhotoKemal Softic)

Bosnia has struggled with the influx of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in their countries in the Mideast, Africa and Asia. Migrants mostly flock to Bosnia's northwestern corner, which borders European Union member Croatia, from where they hope to move toward wealthier European countries. But many have reported violent pushbacks by Croatian border forces as well as hostility from Bosnian residents.

Migrants protest at the Lipa camp outside Bihac, Bosnia, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Aid groups said earlier Friday some hundreds of people rejected food during a protest highlighting poor conditions in Bosnia, and holding up banners urging international help. (AP PhotoKemal Softic)

Migrants protest at the Lipa camp outside Bihac, Bosnia, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Aid groups said earlier Friday some hundreds of people rejected food during a protest highlighting poor conditions in Bosnia, and holding up banners urging international help. (AP PhotoKemal Softic)

Migrants warm their hands on a fire at the Lipa camp outside Bihac, Bosnia, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 202, after hundreds failed to be relocated from the burnt-out tent camp in the northwest of the country. The migrants were supposed on Tuesday to be transferred from the much-criticized Lipa camp to a new location in the central part of the country, but have instead spent some 24 hours in buses before being told on Wednesday afternoon to disembark and return to the now empty camp site. (AP PhotoKemal Softic)

A migrant holds on to a fence at the Lipa camp outside Bihac, Bosnia, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, after hundreds failed to be relocated from the burnt-out tent camp in the northwest of the country. The migrants were supposed on Tuesday to be transferred from the much-criticized Lipa camp to a new location in the central part of the country, but have instead spent some 24 hours in buses before being told on Wednesday afternoon to disembark and return to the now empty camp site. (AP PhotoKemal Softic)

Migrants walk back to the Lipa camp outside Bihac, Bosnia, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, after hundreds failed to be relocated from the burnt-out tent camp in the northwest of the country. The migrants were supposed on Tuesday to be transferred from the much-criticized Lipa camp to a new location in the central part of the country, but have instead spent some 24 hours in buses before being told on Wednesday afternoon to disembark and return to the now empty camp site. (AP PhotoKemal Softic)

Migrants stretch their hands above a fire at the Lipa camp outside Bihac, Bosnia, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 202, after hundreds failed to be relocated from the burnt-out tent camp in the northwest of the country. The migrants were supposed on Tuesday to be transferred from the much-criticized Lipa camp to a new location in the central part of the country, but have instead spent some 24 hours in buses before being told on Wednesday afternoon to disembark and return to the now empty camp site. (AP PhotoKemal Softic)