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EU Pledges Funds To Help Bosnia Meet Migrant Crisis

European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides

The European Commission says it will provide Bosnia-Herzegovina with 1.5 million euros ($1.8 million) to help it cope with an influx of refugees and migrants crossing its borders on their way to Western Europe.

The European Union's aid commissioner, Christos Stylianides, on June 7 said the aid is intended to help the Balkan nation deal with migrants' "basic needs and provide emergency shelter, food and health assistance, as well as protection."

"The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Bosnia-Herzegovina has increased and we must act swiftly," he added, speaking in Sarajevo after a conference of European nations to discuss the problem.

More than 1 million migrants and refugees made use of the Balkan route in a 10-month period before it was shut down in March 2016 after an agreement between the EU and Turkey.

But migrants have continued to slip through and in recent months have begun to travel through Bosnia instead of trying to cross a border fence separating Hungary and Serbia, as they had previously done.

Officials estimate that more than 5,500 illegal migrants have entered Bosnia since the start of the year, many of them from Iran and Pakistan.

Most of them gather in northwestern Bosnia, in Bihac and Velika Kladusa, near the border with EU member Croatia.

Bosnian Interior Minister Dragan Mektic told the conference that Europe must work together to solve the problem.

"We must not approach this crisis individually, in order to avert negative experiences from 2015," Mektic said.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP