Migrants and refugees hosted at UN-run reception centres in Bosnia-Herzegovina are learning to cope with the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Channel 1 Los Angeles

4/2/2020

We fled from home to save our lives, to escape war, and now we are faced with this new coronavirus”, says Rozhan, Along with her husband, Ibrahim, and her three children, she made a long and arduous journey from Iraq, her home country, to Bosnia-Herzegovina in Europe.

The family are hosted at the Borići reception centre in Bihać, managed by UN Migration (IOM) along with 315 other migrants and refugees, who have escaped conflict and violence in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.

En route, they have been stopped and searched and detained, and they have just endured the frosts of winter. But now, they face a new, and unexpected challenge.

“I first heard of coronavirus here at the centre”, she says. “Everyone was talking about it, and there were posters explaining how we should protect ourselves.”

While the number of COVID-19 cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still considered manageable — under 500 as of 1 April — the infection rate is rising fast and is expected to peak in the coming weeks.

The authorities have taken measures to prevent the spread of the disease nationwide, such as curfews and school closures, as well as restrictions on movement in and out of the reception centres.

Meanwhile, UN agencies have been working around the clock with the authorities to ensure that some of the most vulnerable of people in the country — around 5,500 migrants and refugees hosted in the country’s reception centres — are protected, too.

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