Bosnia is dealing with an influx of migrants trying to flee towards Western Europe, often ending up stranded in the country due to Croatia's tight border control.

Migrants stand in the line for clothing distributed by aid agencies at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Sunday, December 8, 2019.
Migrants stand in the line for clothing distributed by aid agencies at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Sunday, December 8, 2019. (Kemal Softic / AP)

Bosnia’s security minister on Thursday proposed the deportation of migrants from the Balkan country, alleging that they pose a potential security threat and a severe economic burden amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fahrudin Radoncic also said migrants who could not provide passports or other identification documents should be imprisoned rather than accommodated in migrant camps in Bosnia.

“(Migrants) who do not want to show their identity cards will not be allowed any more to use our migrant and refugee camps,” he said. “They will go straight to jail. And we will keep them there for 1 year to 5 years until we can establish their identity — this is our proposal for a new law.”

He provided no date for when the proposed legislation would be ready for debate in parliament.

The comments reflect growing frustration in the small Balkan country with the influx of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in the Middle East, Africa or Asia, who hope to move on towards Western Europe. Most end up trapped in Bosnia as Croatia, the next country on the migration route, has imposed strict border controls.

“We want to (ease) the burden of taking care of 8,000 to 9,000 people here, we just can’t handle that, especially now, with the virus situation,” Radoncic said. “We also want to psychologically discourage new migrants from coming here after the pandemic ends and borders open again.”

Source: AP