Bosnia will on Wednesday dismantle tents at a makeshift migrant camp known as the “jungle” for its brutal conditions, after transferring hundreds of people to Sarajevo.
Rights groups heavily criticised the Vucjak camp, where migrants slept in tents with no heating, running water or proper toilets, ever since local authorities opened in June in an area near the Croatian border that still has landmines from the 1990s war.
After the first snowfall last week, a Council of Europe official warned that the camp was on the verge of a humanitarian crisis and that deaths could be imminent.
Bosnian authorities began bussing migrants out on Tuesday, bringing them to sites near Sarajevo — far from the Croatian frontier they hope to cross to enter the European Union.
“A total of 770 people were transferred to Sarajevo on 15 buses,” Ale Siljdedic, a spokesman for the regional Bihac police, told AFP.
Local authorities and the Red Cross will now dismantle tents and clear the area, he added.
The migrants, mostly men from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, are among some 25,000 who have passed through the camp this year, according to a Red Cross official.
Most eventually make it through to Croatia, a gateway to the EU, though some are pushed back by border police and find themselves stranded in Bosnia for long stretches of time.
Bosnia became a key transit country for migrants after northern routes through the Balkans were largely shut down in 2016, after Hungary build a border wall.
The poor and politically paralysed country has struggled to manage the influx.
Half of the migrants from the Vucjak camp were taken to a new centre that being fitted out at a former army barracks near Sarajevo, according to an International Organization for Migration (IOM) source.
The others were temporarily taken to an official migrant centre and will be moved to the barracks when the work is finished.
According to Siljdedic, about 3,200 migrants are currently in the northwest Bihac region in camps run by the IOM.
Another 1,000 live outside, sleeping rough or in private homes and abandoned buildings.