In the context of the increased number of irregular migrants transiting through the country since the end of 2017, and of persons seeking asylum, IOM seeks to support the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to effectively manage a functioning reception system (i.e. a system for accommodating and providing support for persons of concern from the moment of entry into, and their departure from, BiH) in line with international standards and that provides living conditions at an acceptable level, where the dignity of those accommodated is maintained and their basic needs met.
IOM will continue working with the UN, civil society, and state partners to provide support and assistance to migrants and asylum seekers, in Bosnia and Herzegovina in temporary reception centres and elsewhere.
IOM will additionally be supporting and reinforcing the migration and border management capacities of key State, Cantonal and local level institutions engaged in the migration response, namely the BiH Ministry of Security (the Border Police and the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs).
Since the beginning of 2018, IOM, together with UNHCR, has led the response on behalf of the UN in BiH in light of the mixed asylum seeker and migrant profile of those in need of assistance, and in support of the responsible BiH institutions.
At the level of the BiH State Authorities, the Ministries in charge of accommodation for the migrants and asylum seekers in the country are the Ministry of Security through the Service for Foreigners Affairs, the Sector for Asylum and the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees.
IOM supports the BiH State authorities in Centre Coordination and Centre Management (CCCM), including in (1) administration of centres; (2) coordination of centres; and (3) management of centres. This includes the provision of technical equipment, vehicles and registration software, alongside capacity building activities and the temporary deployment/relocation of officials to key border crossing points and migrant reception centres as well as significant investments in establishing new or upgrading/reconstructing existing reception facilities to enhance the dignity and living conditions of migrants and asylum seekers.
IOM, together with UNHCR, supports the coordination of all reception centres in BiH. This role involves overall strategic and inter-centre operational coordination, covering issues such as setting strategy, setting standards (notably adhering to minimum humanitarian standards, as well as EU standards), contingency planning, information management, and coordinating the placement of migrants in reception centres, in a protection-sensitive manner.
In support of the BiH authorities who are currently leading/will be leading the direct management of each centre, IOM supports the management of the seven temporary reception centres, including the deployment of dedicated CCCM (centre managers, centre administrators and registration and centre assistants), cultural mediators, and security personnel present 24/7. The influx of migrants and asylum seekers, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to BiH, and changes in occupancy of the centres have led to increased need for CCCM support during this year.
IOM CCCM staff organize weekly CCCM meetings with the participation of all partners and service providers present in the centre to enhance the coordination within each centre. IOM CCCM staff also work to increase the participation and accentuality of the migrant population and has together with partners established community structures, complaint and feedback mechanisms, as well as centre-specific standard operating procedures for a more predictable and transparent response.
In these roles, IOM works closely with UNHCR, UNICEF and the Danish Refugee Council, mainstreaming mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in CCCM and the general humanitarian response. IOM CCCM staff refer migrants in need of protection and health services, including MHPSS services/activities.
IOM, together with the implementing partners Red Cross and the local NGO Pomozi.ba, provide food for migrants and asylum seekers accommodated in the seven temporary reception centres, as well as the state-managed Refugee Reception Centre Salakovac. IOM supports the preparation and distribution of three meals per day – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and two snacks according to set standard menus that ensure sufficient nutritional value and daily calorie intake.
IOM also supports the running and maintenance of ‘open kitchens’ in the temporary reception centres allowing migrants and asylum seekers to cook their own food.
While UNICEF and its implementing partners are operating Mother and Baby Corners, advising on nutrition and provision of age-appropriate food to children as well as screening all children aged 6-59 months for undernutrition, IOM will be providing complementary food and nutrition to children, in cases where mothers are unable to breastfeed, or children/infants and mothers, which for other reasons are in need of complementary food/nutrition.
In the seven temporary reception centres, which host up to 6,000 migrants and asylum seekers per day, IOM provides basic water, sanitation and hygiene services. This includes safe drinking water, either through connection to the public water supply or through water cistern/tanks and the provision of toilets and showers in accordance to minimum standards (SPHERE/EASO Guidance on reception conditions, operational standards and indicators), separated by gender and with adapted facilities for persons with disabilities. Currently, the exiting WASH systems have to be maintained, while expanding capacities further to account for the COVID-19 related distancing rules which place a strain on current capacities.
In addition to the state-managed Refugee Reception Centre Salakovac and the Asylum Reception Centre Delijas, IOM provides safe, dignified and secure shelter to migrants and asylum seekers in seven temporary reception centres.
With a total capacity of around 6,000 beds, and with an estimated migrant population of around 8,000 at any given time, there is still a need to increase the country's accommodation capacity to offer safe, dignified and secure shelter to migrants. This can be achieved either through the expansion of the existing temporary reception centres, through the opening of new sites, or both.
The expansion of the current temporary reception centres would require reconstructions works, and an upscaling of existing infrastructure, in particular with electricity/heating. The opening of a new site, depending on the conditions, would at a minimum require interior/furniture and the activation/re-connection of basic infrastructure for electricity, water supply, gas, sewage, etc.
Migrants and asylum seekers, both those within and those residing outside temporary reception centres, are in need of cultural, gender and age-sensitive non-food items (NFIs), including hygiene/dignity/women kits, clothes and other necessities, including winter clothes (jackets, raincoats, hats, and gloves) and additional blankets and sleeping bags during winter. While IOM and partners receive donations with NFIs, these are on an ad-hoc basis, and this sector remains underfunded for 2020.
To improve the understanding of migrants’ profiles in BiH and the Western Balkans region, IOM aims to continue rolling out its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) methodology. Since 2015, the DTM regional team collects information on newly arrived migrants and refugees registered by the authorities or counted by IOM field colleagues. To better understand the capacities and the changing situation in the country, DTM initiated the collection of data in mid-2016 related to occupancy and capacity rates in the reception centres providing humanitarian community and interested public with information on the gaps in the reception systems and responses. Dispersed movements in the Western Balkan region and limited availability of data on irregular border crossings represented a challenge in tracking new arrivals in some of the countries. Available information from the field indicated that most of the migrants seek assistance in the reception centres, therefore this challenge was solved by tracking the number of newly arrived migrants in the facilities or unofficial sites - which was then taken as a reliable proxy for estimates on the velocity of population movements.
- Increase capacity of IOM field staff and national level counterparts to carry out site assessments (data collection and regular reporting);
- Capacity building for country offices to increase information management capacities for gathering timely data on migrants needs and subsequently ensure a better link between findings and operational response;
- Comprehensive analysis of trends of migrants profiles, vulnerabilities and needs, such as vulnerability to human trafficking and other exploitative practices, and mental health and psychosocial support needs.
Address the drivers and longer term impacts of crises and displacement through investments in recovery and crisis prevention
IOM will target local communities with low or deteriorating social cohesion, institutions dedicated to providing Mental Health and Psycho-social support (MHPSS), Civil Society Organizations, and educational institutions (schools, universities, institutes), for an all-of-society approach to improve social cohesion.
IOM will directly support and work with youth, families, marginalized community members, religious, cultural, and education leaders, and individuals facing socio-economic stressors.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has adversely affected the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, economic wellbeing, and the social cohesiveness of many communities in the Western Balkan region. To ensure social-cohesion building recovery, it is key to support civil society in efforts to provide localized MHPSS. Local civil society organizations will be introduced with innovative ways of providing MHPSS to host communities. IOM aims to widen the scope of service provision apart from traditional providers (medical institutions and mental health centers) and expand the focus to include schools, universities, local NGOs, the private sector and other institutions that communities interact with on a daily basis.
Programming seeks to address weak social cohesion as one of the primary drivers of the rise in violent extremism recruitment seen since 2014, as well as conflict spurred by the rise in ultra-nationalist rhetoric. Social cohesion building, in the context of crisis prevention, must be addressed through empowering local actors – local communities, youth, families, marginalized community members, religious, cultural, and education leaders – and adopting tailored approaches, including those sensitive to local cultures and religious beliefs.
Crisis prevention hence calls for the support of efforts placing emphasis on local ownership and contributing and reinforcing long-term efforts aimed at strengthening the resilience and social cohesion of communities in BiH. Working across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, the response contributes to strengthening community capacity to respond to threats to sustainable social cohesion. Further, this approach would provide community members with opportunities for a productive outlet to facilitate just and equitable economic and social development. At the same time, the rise of climate and ecological issues cannot be ignored as a factor of deterioration of social cohesion. As such, it is necessary to move towards the integration of the green transition principles in all medium and long term crisis prevention strategies, whenever appropriate.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Figures are as of 31 December 2020. For more details of IOM's operational capacity in country, please see the IOM Capacity section.