CIMIC 'Ó la franšaise'
Maj. Christophe Fix
First published in
SFOR Informer#156, January 23, 2003
During the last few months, the activities of the French
CIMIC team mainly focused on the area of Nevesinje, and in
particular towards Bosnian-Serb Displaced Persons (DPs). Conducted
in close co-operation with military activities in the field,
CIMIC (Civil-Military Co-operation) is supporting the actions
of the Spanish French Battle Group (SPFR BG) in its new area
Nevesinje - Next summer, during the driest months, 50 inhabitants
from Luka, a small village located 20 km north of Nevesinje,
won't suffer from any more droughts. Moreover, for the first
time in their life, they will enjoy running water. The story
began when residents led by Miro Glogovac, a retired technology
teacher, decided to take advantage of a natural spring spurting
just at the bottom of a rocky barrier, two kilometers northeast
from the hamlet.
Work first began in September 2002. One 8m high and 80m3 intermediary
concrete cistern was built up and directly linked to the spring
with water pipes. All inhabitants including the elderly took
part in the working with shovels and picks, tractors and explosives
as well. "Each family living in Luka gave 300 KM for
this project. Now I hope that young people will decide to
remain in the village instead of leaving for foreign countries,"
said Zivko Zerajic, 74 years old.
By the end of November, when short of tools, water pipes and
joints, residents requested the support of the (then) French
Battle Group CIMIC team. The request was accepted Nov. 11
and the materials were delivered two weeks after.
"Luka's inhabitants began to work by themselves and asked
only for our help when facing a problem they obviously couldn't
solve. The more the local people prove they don't comply with
a 'wait and see' policy, the more we are disposed to offer
them our support and our experience," said Maj. Francis
Rigotti, Chief of the FR CIMIC team, SPFR BG.
Promote self initiative
This team is only eleven personnel strong: four are officers,
two NCOs, two soldiers and three civilian interpreters. Since
June 2002, they received and handled on average of about 15
requests per month. More than 90 files have been already opened,
30 are under examination and 45 have already been completed,
less than half of them with military assets and manpower.
"Missions are always very different one from another,
going from removing rubbles, repairing houses or simply delivering
water. Specific works are generally performed by civilian
companies under our monitoring, for we must act as the catalysts
of the regional economic start up and not be the single actors,"
stated Maj. Rigotti.
"Last year, we repaired six houses belonging to returnees
but each time we voluntarily limited our action in renovating
just two or three rooms so as to restore sufficient and satisfactory
life conditions and to prompt these families to pursue the
work by themselves," he added.
Free medical assistance
Free medical assistance has also regularly been carried out
in the DP camps of Nevesinje and Trusina in close relationship
with the FR CIMIC team. "After an initial paramedical
or medical check-up, the main intent was to readjust medical
treatments in favor of very often old destitute persons and
try to ensure every three weeks an individual medical follow-up,"
explained Doctor Hencoumar Sincan.
He conducted his first mission in Nevesinje on Aug. 20, 2002.
On the whole, he took part in 20 others missions from September
to December, holding more than 200 consultations. "This
was my first experience of free medical assistance and it
was so gratifying, humanly speaking, that I will never forget
it," underlined Dr Sincan.
Since Dec. 1, 2002, the Spanish CIMIC team gathered with the
French team in the same compound in Mostar-Europa Base. Though
supported by separate international and national funds and
therefore acting independently, the new geographical co-location
as well as the new task organization of the combined BG, will
further develop and strengthen CIMIC cooperation between both
countries for 2003.
Related links: CIMIC
Nations of SFOR: France