By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barb
First published in
SFOR Informer#115, June 13, 2001
Since it moved from Camp Jussi to Eagle Base
at the beginning of May, the Finnish CIMIC Company started small
projects in its new area of responsibility. One of them is a bridge
reconstruction in co-operation with the Russian engineer unit
based in Priboj. It will allow more than 20 Bosnian-Serbs to return
to their pre-war homes.
|The Finnish CIMIC
37 officers divided in:
3 CIMIC Centres of 9 persons each.
Each centre is made up of two teams of three officers who
patrol their respective area almost everyday with a headquarters
A CIMIC house recently opened in Bratunac and two others
are to be opened very soon in Bijeljina and Janja.
Arrival at Eagle Base: April 1.
Length of tour: one year.
Vujici In the centre of the bridge, or what is
left of it, Finnish Capt. Harry Kantola and the Russian Capt.
Alexey Elagin talk about the reconstruction plan.
The small bridge of the village of Vujici, on the boundary line
between Federation and Republika Srpska, will turn over a new
leaf. "It will allow Bosnian-Serb families who are living,
at the moment, in Zvornik and Bijeljina to begin to clean their
houses. There's about 20 of them on the other side of the bridge,
but which no one can access because of its bad shape," declared
Kantola, chief of the Finnish 3rd CIMIC Centre at Eagle Base.
is one of the first projects that the team will lead in co-operation
with the Russian engineers of the 1st Peacekeeping Russian Separate
Airborne Brigade (PRSAB) based in Camp Priboj. The Finns provided
the funding and the material needed (decks and stringers), the
Russians, the manpower and the know-how. "Our job will be
to take away the metal stringer, to set-up new pillars, then to
put back four wooden stringers," explained Elagin, of the
Russian engineer company. "The bridge will have a capacity
of 15 tonnes. It doesn't need more because there is little traffic
here. With a 20-person team, it will take about five or six days
to complete the job," he added.
had been carefully planned. The Russians reconnoitred the bridge
a long time ago, but they couldn't begin the work because of the
lack of the means. At Camp Priboj, in Maj. Ivan Parfenov's office,
chief of the engineer company, Kantola and Capt. Pekka Livari,
one of the few of the 37 officers to speak Russian, had a final
look at the plans written in Cyrillic. "We are ready to begin
the work as soon as we get the material," Parfenov confirmed.
This project is the perfect example of the action, although a
small case, that Kantola wants to lead. "We try to get non-governmental
organisations (NGO) interested by improving the return process
from Federation to RS and vice versa. One of our strengths is
that we are open to discussion with everyone," he noticed.
That means either the local population and its representatives,
or international organisations working in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
the organisations such as OHR, UNHCR, OSCE, Mercy Corps (Scottish
NGO), International Rescue Committee (US NGO), Swedish Rescue
Services Agency, SRSA (Swedish NGO) were very helpful when we
arrived here. Our job is to get people back to their homes rather
than to rebuild," confirmed Capt. Oula Lahti, return officer.
On a map stuck on the wall of his office, Kantola stuck little
coloured drawing pins to identify the ongoing projects and the
situation of people in the field. His area of responsibility spreads
form Bijeljina to Zvornik (both in RS) to Srebrenik (Federation,
Canton 3) on the west part. He has a lot of work, as he kindly
recognised, but nothing seems to be able to weaken its determination
and his contentment.
Nations of SFOR: Finland,
DPRE, Engineering - bridge