SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A convoy of buses with 270 migrants, including children, was stuck in central Bosnia on Friday, reflecting the chaotic situation in the war-scarred Balkan country as it struggles to cope with the influx.
Authorities were transporting the migrants from Sarajevo, the capital, toward a center for asylum-seekers near the southwestern town of Mostar, but regional authorities there didn’t allow them in.
The buses returned to the Sarajevo district and remained blocked on a mountain road. Local media reported 18 children among the migrants, who appeared frightened and confused.
Bosnia’s authorities earlier in the day dismantled a migrant tent settlement in central Sarajevo in preparation for the move to Mostar.
Interior Minister Dragan Mektic told N1 television that the stoppage of the convoy was illegal and that it “jeopardizes the constitutional order” of Bosnia. He said the blockade amounted to a “coup d’etat.”
After a bloody war in the 1990s, Bosnia was split among Bosnian Muslim, Croat and Serb entities. Sarajevo is under Bosnian Muslim control while Mostar is under Croat control.
Peter Van Der Auweraert, chief of the International Organization for Migration mission in Bosnia, said the migrants were to be transported to a refugee camp “where there are barracks, there are medical services, where there would be food.”
Thousands of migrants fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa have recently turned from Serbia to Bosnia to avoid more heavy guarded routes and borders in other Balkan countries. Hundreds have been camping outdoors in Sarajevo and elsewhere.
Bosnian police have increased patrols along the borders with Serbia and Montenegro to prevent the growing influx of migrants illegally trying to reach Western Europe.
By ELDAR EMRIC, By Associated Press – published on STL.News by St. Louis Media, LLC (A.S)