According to officials, there are around 500 unaccompanied children in various shelters in the country, along with some 450 children with their families. After the closure of two large camps last year, the number of shelters for refugees and migrants in Bosnia & Herzegovina has drastically decreased. Refugees and migrants, including children, can only be registered if they are about to access official shelters. Without registration, unaccompanied children don’t have access to a legal guardian and remain invisible to the protection system, Save the Children said.
Many unaccompanied children are reluctant to leave the Una-Sana Canton region for shelters in other areas, as they want to stay close to the border with the EU and don’t want to leave the groups they are travelling with. The lack of a functioning referral system for children to get into suitable accommodation is forcing them to fend for themselves outside. Save the Children is calling for the registration and protection of migrant children living on the streets in Bosnia & Herzegovina. As it is on the route to Western European border areas, the region has become a hotspot for migrants. Because of their desperate situation, a lack of legal pathways and solutions for children and families, they continue to attempt to cross the Croatian border into the EU, despite reports of violent push backs. Save the Children’s teams in Bosnia & Herzegovina have witnessed the deep impact of this stressful situation on children, particularly among those travelling alone, including some of them resorting to self-harm.