Nearly half of young people are considering emigrating from Bosnia, according to a UN survey

A United Nations report published on Wednesday said that increasing numbers of young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are considering leaving the country with no intention of returning.

The Survey by the United Nations Population Fund (United Nations Population Fund) interviewed 5,000 young people earlier this year. It found that nearly half (47%) were considering emigrating, with nearly a quarter (24%) considering leaving permanently.

The report says the country has a long tradition of immigration, which has intensified over the past three decades in the wake of conflict in the 1990s.

However, what settled in the “fixed trends” of economic migration towards more developed countries has now taken on a “new dimension”, with “enormous” consequences for Bosnia itself.

“The general impression is that the structure of the immigrant population is changing and that more and more young people are considering emigrating abroad and leaving without any intention of returning, which has a tremendous impact on social, economic, demographic and development trends,” the report concludes.

Based on the results, you estimate that between 22,300 and 23,700 18-29 year-olds will leave the country either temporarily or permanently over the next 12 months.

The UN Population Fund says that the reasons for migration go beyond the usual desire for better economic prospects, standards of living and a better quality of life. It also indicates a low level of trust among young people in public institutions.

“More than 70 percent of young people believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s society is systematically corrupt,” the survey stated. “These findings indicate that young people do not believe that public institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina care about their interests.”

A combination of factors, from a “lack of a general sense of stability” to “unmet needs for security”, means that migration aspirations and behavior in Bosnia are “driven by necessity rather than choice”.

The report recommends more “decisive” reforms in the public sector, with youth policies targeting the school-to-work transition, youth inactivity and poverty. Public services should be made more available and accessible, while measures are required to restore youth confidence in public institutions.

It also calls for a new campaign to involve young people in decision-making and increase their participation in society.

The report says a diversified approach is needed to combat “the spread and persistence of negative stereotypes of young people as passive, apathetic, incompetent and useless, along with the idea that only ‘losers’ remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the brave are smart leave”.

The UN poll comes amid the worst political crisis in the Balkan nation since a US-brokered peace deal that ended more than three and a half years of bloodshed in 1995.

The agreement divided Bosnia into two regions – the Serb-administered Republika Srpska and the Bosnian-Croat Federation – which were granted extensive autonomy but remained linked by some common institutions.

Serbs have long advocated independence from the rest of Bosnia. Their hard-line leader, Milorad Dodik, recently pledged that the Bosnian Serb region would declare its own army and judiciary by the end of November.

The Serbs’ attitude raised concern in the West that Bosnia might be in danger of splitting.

A senior US official, visiting the country this week, warned nationalist leaders trying to “rip it apart” that “there are tools we have to punish this kind of behaviour”, which is seen as an indication of possible sanctions.

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