Disaster response Bosnia and Herzegovina

Balkan Migration Crisis

2018 - Ongoing
Published on Nov 13, 2018 05:40 PM  -  Updated on Jul 26, 2022 12:25 PM
The migration crisis at the European Union border between Croatia and Bosnia is worsening. TSF has started its operations in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to provide internet connectivity in the Bira shelter opened by IOM in October 2018.

Context: Migrant Crisis
Start date: 01/11/2018
End date: ongoing
Areas of intervention: Bihać, Velika Kladusa, Lipa
Activities:

  • Connectivity for population
  • Support to humanitarian coordination

Bira

17 890+ devices connected since November 2018
~18.94 TB of data exchanged / month
15+ organisations supported
50+ humanitarian actors 
12 high density access points

Lipa

+3,700 unique devices connected
+38 TB
of data exchanged

Context

More than 50,000 people have entered Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2018. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), currently there are at least 7,200 migrants in the country. As migrants and refugees try to reach their destination across the border in northwest Bosnia to enter Croatia, Croatian police have increased checks and deportations to Bosnia. In October 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) opened a center for migrants at the Bira factory in Bihać.

In 2021 the factory shelter closed and the refugees were transferred in the camp of Lipa, 25 km South from Bihac.

Connectivity in Bira factory (2018-2021)

After an evaluation conducted by our IT experts in September 2018, TSF started a collaboration with the IOM in November of the same year, for a project which aims to provide humanitarian means of communication to migrants and refugees received in the center of Bira in Bihać to the humanitarian actors who work there.

The project consists in improving the coexistence of migrants, refugees and the local community by offering a free internet connection with WI-FI access to allow migrants and refugees hosted in the 20,000m² factory to maintain frequent contacts with their relatives. The system also benefits 50 local and international humanitarian actors from different organizations such as IOM, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the Red Cross.

For this same reason, TSF was present at Velika Kladusa until June 2019 to provide the Internet connection necessary for the work of humanitarian actors on site, especially for the IOM.

A map of the Balkans and Bosnia-Herzegovina, showing the centres where TSF has been active

Wi-Fi coverage of Lipa's camp (since December 2021)

After the first camp of Lipa was destroyed by a fire on December 2020, it was rebuilt and reopened in October 2021 with a maximum capacity of 1,500 persons. In the continuity of the project in Bira, IOM asked TSF to carry out the Wi-Fi coverage of the camp of Lipa, mainly the accommodation areas and the common areas (refectory etc.).

TSF carried out the study and the installation of the High Density Wi-Fi access points in December 2021. Currently, 12 access points are in use and allow the refugees hosted in the camp to maintain a link with their relatives and to access information.

Testimonies

"Through my work with migrants I realised that they appreciate and need the internet connection more than any other service, because it's their connection with the families left behind." - Amira Hadzimehmedovic, Manager of the Bira centre for IOM in Bosnia

Internet is also pertinent in data collection which is essential for humanitarian organisations. For instance, we collect information with online surveys on the beneficiaries’ satisfaction with regards to assistance given. In addition, social media is a great source of information for communities, and it is a useful way to get in touch with other aid agencies and hold them to account.” - Amira Almakzomy, Project Assistant for IOM in Bosnia

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