Bosnia and Herzegovina air pollution causing thousands of deaths: HRW News
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Bosnia and Herzegovina air pollution causing thousands of deaths: HRW

Life-threatening air pollution in Bosnia and Herzegovina has caused the deaths of thousands of citizens, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported Monday.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the countries that is highly polluted during the winter months and has the fifth-highest mortality rate from air pollution. The main cause of this air pollution is the country’s dependency on coal and wood for heat and coal for electricity generation. The country requires a high amount of energy generation to sustain itself during the winter months. Further, during those months, the accumulation of levels of fine particulate matter, nitrous dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other deadly pollutants exceed the standard level provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Statics of the World Bank showcase that every year more than 3,300 citizens die prematurely due to the air pollution. During its survey, HRW observed that the state authorities have been relying on natural resources such as coal and no alternative robust mechanisms are adapted to ensure the safety of the citizens. It has been observed that a low-quality polluting type of coal has been utilized in the country from outdated coal plants, and people who are living around these coal plants had died from cancer and cardiovascular, or respiratory ailments.

The interviews of 35 people conducted by HRW between December 2020 and April 2021 observed a clear link between coal industries and breathing problems. A review conducted by HRW of air quality data and official government documents and letters were also sent to the concerned ministries, local bodies and electricity companies in both Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Responses from the authorities received reveal that the non-coordination between various authorities and complex governance systems has led to inadequacies in the functioning such as air pollution governance systems being out of service at times.

Given all these hardships, HRW suggests shifting expeditiously from coal to renewable energy with changes in the country’s infrastructure to lead to a better lifestyle and prevent ailments from air pollution. Apart from this, the shift of employment from coal to other renewable energy jobs would also prevent the sustenance of the existing system in the country. Lastly, support from EU to help change the current model would be beneficial.