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article imageEU-bound migrants scuffle with Bosnian police near border

By AFP     Oct 23, 2018 in World

Bosnian police blocked some 250 migrants from reaching the border with its neighbour and EU member Croatia Tuesday, sparking a scuffle, shortly after thwarting another group in a similar attempt.

"They tried to cross by force. The police turned them down. There was a scuffle," police spokeswoman Snezana Galic told AFP of the confrontation near the Maljevac border post, where about 100 police were deployed.

No injuries were reported. By late evening, some 100 migrants remained camped at the border near the town of Velika Kladusa in the northwest of Bosnia, which is not a member of the European bloc.

Several thousand migrants have been living in make-shift shelters in the region for months, hoping to continue on to the EU.

Most hail from Pakistan and Afghanistan, but there are also Iranians, Syrians, and Algerians among others.

While some have been repeatedly turned back by a boosted police patrol at the Croatian border, many have managed to slip through and continue their journey to Western Europe.

Earlier in the day, another group of about 100 migrants, including families with children, was sent back by police in buses after spending a night on the roadside near Izacic, another border crossing.

Police stopped them from marching further and sent them to a hotel that has been turned into a temporary migrant centre.

Bosnia's mountainous terrain was previously avoided by migrants trying to reach Western Europe.

But the country has seen an influx since the start of the year as a new route is carved through the Balkans.

However, aid groups say the country is failing to provide adequate care, with authorities yet to set up a formal reception centre in Bosnia's northwestern region where most migrants are based.

The UN's refugee agency warned that better shelter is desperately needed before winter hits.

"We have been calling for the Bosnian authorities... to find additional accommodation for asylum seekers for the past few months. Unfortunately, this was not done sufficiently," Neven Crvenkovic, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the Balkans, said Tuesday.

"Winter is at the door and it is really the last moment to ensure the necessary housing capacity to avoid a humanitarian tragedy in northern Bosnia," he added.

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