EU commissioner tells Bosnia to manage migration better

The European Union's home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson speaks to media in front of a migrant camp Lipa near Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 18, 2021. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

LIPA, Bosnia (Reuters) - The European Union's migration commissioner Ylve Johansson urged Bosnia on Thursday to manage migration properly and share the burden of its migrant crisis equally across the country if it is to stay on course for EU membership.

About 9,000 migrants from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have been stuck in the Balkan country on their way to wealthier European countries. Most of them are concentrated in the northwest corner of Bosnia, close to the Croatian border, and in the capital Sarajevo.

"The migration area is one of the 14 priority areas that need to be addressed to have a future together with the European Union, and we see the need for better burden sharing," Johansson said.

She was speaking during a tour of a reception camp for migrants in Lipa, northwest Bosnia, close to the Croatian border.

The camp recently reopened after it was set on fire in late December and had to close, leaving more than a thousand people to sleep in freezing conditions in abandoned houses and camp tents in forests over the winter months.

During her visit, Johansson praised local efforts to rebuild the Lipa camp but underlined that she came with "a strong message of the need for managing migration properly".

"Migration is not something that will end, migration is something that always has been here (in the EU) and always will be here," Johansson said.

Since early 2018 the EU has provided more than 88 million euros ($106.35 million) to help Bosnia manage the migrant crisis.

($1 = 0.8275 euros)

(Reporting by Antonio Bronic, writing by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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