Bern, 21.10.2021 - Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter is conducting an official working visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 20 and 21 October, writes the Swiss Federal Council.
In Sarajevo, the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) held talks with Security Minister Selmo Cikotić and Migration Minister Miloš Lučić. She also visited a migration centre outside Sarajevo.
Ms Keller-Sutter then travelled on to Greece where she will hold meetings with her ministerial counterparts and visit a reception centre. A migration partnership has been in place between Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2009 – it is Switzerland's longest standing migration partnership.
Ms Keller-Sutter stressed the importance of this cooperation and Switzerland's willingness to continue it: "Migration-related challenges can only be managed through partnership." She also assured Bosnia and Herzegovina further support, particularly in the areas of migration management, border controls, returns and in improving the migration information system. Since the Western Balkans route gained in importance, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been one of Europe's migration hotspots.
Around 66,000 migrants have crossed the country's border since 2018, with Bosnia and Herzegovina primarily serving as a transit country to the EU. "Bosnia and Herzegovina plays an extremely important role in tackling illegal migration.
Switzerland greatly appreciates the country's efforts in this area", stressed Ms Keller-Sutter addressing local media representatives in Sarajevo.Nevertheless, the country relies heavily on international support, be it in border management or in the accommodation and integration of migrants. A functioning asylum system in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also in Switzerland's and the EU's interests.Since 2017, Switzerland has supported various projects through the migration partnership, investing a total of around CHF 6.8 million.
Among other things, it has contributed towards the running of the Lipa temporary reception centre, which accommodates around 900 migrants. During her meetings with Security Minister Selmo Cikotić and Migration Minister Miloš Lučić, the head of the FDJP announced that this support would continue. There are plans, for example, to connect the new reception centre at Lipa to the electricity grid and to cover the administrative costs .
This is an important contribution to prevent a crisis like the one in the winter of 2020/2021. "Winter will soon be with us, so it's important that there is adequate heating", said Keller-Sutter. A new project involves improving the migration information system thereby enabling more efficient management of regular and irregular migration.Following the bilateral meetings, Ms Keller-Sutter visited the Ušivak migration centre outside Sarajevo.
The facility for families, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups has a capacity of around 800 people. The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) provided the facility with assistance in pandemic prevention and basic medical care.
During her visit to Sarajevo, the head of the FDJP commended the commitment of the authorities in addressing the challenges of migration management.On the afternoon of 21 October, Ms Keller-Sutter travelled to Greece. In Athens, she visited a centre for unaccompanied girls set up with the support of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).
On 22 October, the head of the FDJP will meet with the Greek Minister for Asylum and Migration, Notis Mitarachi, and the Minister for Citizens' Protection, Takis Theodorikakos. To conclude the trip, Ms Keller-Sutter will visit the Mavrovouni facility on the Greek island of Lesbos to assess the situation on the ground..
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