At least 1,400 people were left without any shelter after a migrant camp was shut down in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday. Shortly after the camp was evacuated, a fire broke out and the facility was reduced to ashes.

The inhabitants of the Lipa camp located in Bihac were asked to vacate the facility on Wednesday morning after being given food and sleeping bags. These include migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, many of them women and children. Many have set camp in the nearby forest, while some are seeking shelter in abandoned and derelict buildings reported BBC. The camp was set up to provide shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic, but was unsustainable owing to lack of water and electricity.

The UN International Organization for Migration (UN-IOM) Chief of Mission in the country, Peter Van der Auweraert said, “For several reasons, mostly political, it never got connected to the main water or electricity supply, and was never winterized. And now, with this fire, it never will be.” He added, “What concerns us is that many have said they will go to Sarajevo or Velika Kladuza [further north], but we already know that there is zero additional capacity at any of the shelters for single males. This is likely to drive people to move closer to the border.” The camp is located in the north-western part of the country, close to the border with Croatia.

UN-IOM and humanitarian partners, including the Red Cross and the Danish Refugee Council, have already distributed vital supplies, including warm clothes, sleeping bags, food and hygiene kits to some 1,500 affected people.

A video by UN IOM of smoke billowing out of the burning camp as refugees leave may be viewed here:

Feature Image: Screengrab from UN-IOM Youtube video