32 injured in fire at Bosnia migrant shelter - GulfToday

32 injured in fire at Bosnia migrant shelter


A view of the migrant shelter in the town of Velika Kladusa after it was gutted in a fire on Saturday. Agence France-Presse

A fire in a shelter for migrants in northwest Bosnia on Saturday left 32 people hurt either from burns or injuries after they jumped from windows to escape the flames, authorities said.

The blaze broke out after dawn in the privately-run facility in the town of Velika Kladusa, said Ale Siljdedic, spokesman for the Bihac regional interior ministry.

“The fire has been put out, 32 migrants have been injured,” some of them after jumping from the second floor, Siljdedic told AFP, adding the blaze was “doubtless” due to an electrical fault.

One person was taken to hospital, regional International Migration Organization coordinator Vladmir Mitkovski told FTV television.

Around 500 migrants were in the shelter at the time, Siljdedic said. Videos posted on social media showed several people jumping in panic out of the camp’s windows.

It was the second blaze in recent weeks to hit a place where migrants were staying in Bosnia.

Three weeks ago, three migrants died when a candle they were using set fire to the abandoned building they were in, according to Indira Kulenovic, a manager for Bosnia operations of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Since early 2018 Bosnia has found itself on the “Balkans route” used by migrants seeking to enter EU countries. Around 3,500 migrants are housed in eight shelters, mostly in the northwest, close to the border with EU member Croatia.

About 25,000 people from Asia and North Africa entered Bosnia from Serbia and Montenegro last year, and about 6,000 have arrived in the impoverished Balkan country this year, according to Bosnia’s security agencies.

Most of the migrants are concentrated in Bihac and Velika Kladusa, where authorities say resources are overstretched. They have requested that the three transit centres there be closed and residents moved elsewhere.

MEanwhile, in a separate development related to migrants the Italian navy transported 100 migrants to the northern port of Genoa on Friday, a day after rescuing them, but officials there say they will not be able to stay.

The patrol vessel Cigala Fulgosi came to the migrants’ aid Thursday after the engine on their inflatable boat failed in worsening weather. Only a few of them had lifejackets.


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