The Western Balkan Route is one of the main migratory pathways into Europe. Bosnia and Herzegovina is located at a migration crossroad between Eastern and Western Europe and therefore has become a transit route for migrants. The conflict in the former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1995 destroyed the social and economic infrastructure and forced over half the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to leave their homes. Today, the return of displaced persons and the rise in irregular migration, such as human trafficking and smuggling, make migration a major challenge for the country’s post-conflict recovery and development.
Since 2016 – following the closure of the migrant route through Serbia and Hungary –the number of migrants entering Bosnia and Herzegovina has increased dramatically. Approximately 2,700–3,000 asylum seekers and migrants are currently residing outside of formal accommodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. When the first people-on-the-move started crossing through Bosnia and Herzegovina, citizens across the country stepped into help. Many were reminded of the war and humanitarian crisis that ravaged their country in the 1990s, and could identify with these desperate people who were fleeing war and persecution. But as the number of migrants stuck in Bosnia and Herzegovina has grown, so has the anti-migratory rhetoric towards them – and towards those helping them.