By 1st Lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer#114, May 30, 2001
Nezira Hasanovic smiles, but her eyes are flooded
with tears. She is talking about her lost ones, her husband and
two sons lost in the battle of Srebrenica. Only one picture of
her oldest son is left as a concrete memory - a picture from the
morgue, which was used to identify him.
Drina valley - Her story is not unique. Many share
with her the horror brought upon the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina
during the war. And many of them are still in refuge, waiting
to return to what is left of their homes. Even now, six years
after the war ended, more than 518,000 are displaced persons within
BiH. Helping them come back to their homes is one of SFOR's tasks.
Not only through providing a safe and secure environment, but
also through Civilian Military Co-operation (CIMIC) joining forces
with the international community (IC), non-governmental organizations
(NGO) and local authorities for the benefit of the people.
Commander Thorbjorn Braset leads the CMIC liaisons to the IC in
Multinational Division - North (MND-N). Good co-operation is of
paramount importance in order to co-ordinate aid to the people,
something his team worked hard to achieve.
"This co-operation is extremely important. We need a continuous
exchange of information in order to get a clear picture of the
situation. This information ranges from which places returnees
want to come back to, requests for support of different projects,
situations or incidents which require special monitoring or security
measures for returnees, and so on," he said.
northern Drina valley area is one of those requiring extra focus
and monitoring. Until recently the returns have gone slowly in
this area, with a number hard-liners trying to oppose the process.
But now numbers of returnees are increasing rapidly. People want
to move home.
"We currently have 312 return sites where people are starting
to move back. This is very different from the case a year and
a half ago. At that time the return-process was very slow here
compared to the rest of BiH. Now the activity is bursting,"
said Sarah Rattray. She leads UNHCR's office in Zvornik, which
deals with DPRE in the region. At least once a week she meets
with SFOR to co-ordinate the ongoing process.
"SFOR's involvement is extremely important. We don't have
the resources they have, and would not have been able to get the
information we needed with out their help," she said.
In the field
The CIMIC teams patrolling all over at large gather this information.
Finnish Maj. Heikky Wala is part of the Finnish CIMIC coy, which
recently moved from Camp Jussi in Doboj to Eagle Base in Tuzla.
With a new area to cover, they will be the eyes and ears the IC
needs to keep the return-process running smoothly.
the small village of Bacuta, a small group of men have started
the hard work of rebuilding their houses.
"All 26 houses in this village were totally destroyed. Now,
20 families want to return. But the road to this town is almost
unusable. Therefore we are planning to reconstruct it so the villagers
can get materials up to the site," Wala said. The 1.8-kilometre
road is really in a sad condition, but thanks to the recourses
of the CIMIC, tasks and projects which seem impossible to manage
by the returnees themselves, can be resolved.
"These people are moving back from Tuzla, Zenica and Sarajevo.
And there are many villages like this all over. People want to
move back to where they were before the war," Wala said.
there is a difference between wanting to and being able to. Still
a lot of villages are impossible to return to. Some places are
still heavily mined or lack important pieces of infrastructure,
which must be constructed before anyone can return.
"Every return process has a domino-effect. Some DPRE houses
are occupied by others, who again have a house, which is occupied
by others. To end this effect requires donors who are willing
to build more houses," Braset said.
"But there is hope. Much good has happened already. Our contributing
nations have used a lot of economic and human resources in the
return process of this country," he said.
Related links: CIMIC,
Nations of SFOR: Finland,