Volunteers unable to help all exhausted migrants in Bosnia

Wave of refugees to Bosnia |ِ Youtube snapshot

Dozens of migrants have been flowing into the small impoverished Balkan country of Bosnia during the past few months, with the aim of reaching Croatia on their way to the European Union.

According to InfoMigrants, Bosnia says it is overwhelmed and unprepared to deal with this large influx of people and NGOs say they fear the country is on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis.”

The source said they have met young volunteers who hand out meals to migrants in front of the main train station in Sarajevo, the only food distribution point for migrants in the Bosnian capital. The volunteers-- all 20-somethings from all over Europe-- are running a soup kitchen that is used by hundreds of migrants a day.

InfoMigrants said that each evening, the volunteers set up shop in the station parking lot which is big and spacious enough to work as a food distribution point. However, the volunteers note that handling the situation requires much more effort and capability.

“We were looking for a big enough space to welcome lots of people,” says one of the volunteers.

Many of the volunteers work with small, local associations that help migrants (like Pomoziba), while others work with the IOM (the UN migration agency).

However, the volunteers say the set-up is basic. There are no tables. Instead, the volunteers hand out food from the back of the car. The limited space means a limited amount of food-- just one serving per person.

"There are not a lot of associations that help migrants in Bosnia-- it’s not like in Greece, for example,” says Sadzida one of the volunteers.

Despite the financial and logistic challenges, the volunteers distribute food every day. Their machine is well-oiled. While several unload the food and cut bread, others hand out silverware and set up several drinking water stations.

As the volunteers set up, around 200 men are already queuing up. Around 8pm, dozens of young men flood the parking lot, as if appearing out of thin air. It is the only food distribution point open to migrants in Sarajevo*.“The volunteers are nice,” says one migrant. “They treat us well,” says another. "Here is better than Greece or Serbia,” a third says. “Here, at least, no one hits us".

After Hungarian and Serbian authorities closed the borders of their respective countries, hundreds of migrants have been taking this new migration route through Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia. They hope to reach Croatia, then Germany and other northern European countries.