Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Smoke rises from a fire at migrant camp Lipa, on Dec 23, 2020, near Bihac in western Bosnia.

Hasan Arnautovic/The Associated Press

A huge fire broke out Wednesday at a temporary migrant camp in northwestern Bosnia that has been strongly criticized by rights groups as unsuitable due to its lack of resources. Officials said former residents started the blaze.

Thick black smoke rose from the Lipa tent camp near the Croatian border that once housed 1,200 migrants. Residents were seen running away in panic from the fire but no injuries were immediately reported.

Bosnia has become a bottleneck for thousands of migrants hoping to reach neighbouring European Union member Croatia and then head toward richer EU nations. Most are stuck in Bosnia’s northwestern Krajina region as other areas in the ethnically divided nation have refused to accept them.

Story continues below advertisement

The Lipa camp was to be closed on Wednesday and moved to another location, but officials said that since its tents and other facilities were almost entirely destroyed in the fire it cannot immediately be moved to another spot.

“As far as we know now, a group of former residents put three tents and containers on fire after most of the migrants had left the camp,” said the International Organization for Migration’s chief of mission in Bosnia, Peter Van Der Auweraert.

“Luckily, no casualties to our knowledge at this point but disaster nevertheless,” Van Der Auweraert said on Twitter.

He later told reporters the fire was under control, but that most of the camp was either destroyed or damaged. He said most camp residents were still around the area because “there’s no alternative accommodation available” in Bosnia for them.

He said some migrants planned to head to Croatia as “quickly as they could,” some were aiming to travel to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo while others intended to stay in the Bihac area through the winter in squatter’s camps.

Witnesses said the fire appeared to have started in a fuel storage facility and then quickly spread to the tents where the migrants lived.

Natasa Omerovic, the camp director, told the Bosnian Klix.ba. news portal that the arson started because the planned closure of the camp had triggered anger among migrants.

Story continues below advertisement

“As we see, the tents are being set on fire in a chain action, and I think we are talking about vandalism,” she was quoted as saying. “The migrants are upset and angry, we can hear them cursing the state.”

The Lipa camp was only set up as a temporary shelter during the summer to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The EU has warned Bosnia that thousands of migrants face a freezing winter without shelter, and it urged the country’s bickering politicians to set aside their differences and take action. Thousands of people have been sleeping outdoors in makeshift tent camps or abandoned houses with no facilities in the area, which saw the first snow earlier this month.

Many migrants in Bosnia have also alleged pushbacks and violence at the hands of Croatian border police.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies