By 2nd Lt. Bruno Ménard
First published in
SFOR Informer#117, July 11, 2001
To support the minority return process is part
of SFOR's mission. This is illustrated by the clearly expected
opening of a CIMIC house in the Northeast of the country.
Bijeljina - A new SFOR Finnish action took place,
in favour of civilians in the Northeast of Bosnia and Herzegovina
(BiH). July 3, a new CIMIC House was opened in Bijeljina. Rented
in a private house, it was inaugurated by the Commander of the
Peacekeeping Russian Separate Airborne Brigade (PRSAB) and the
Mayor of the city. After the festivities, the work began! It is
not yet open, but a multicolour clothed group waits in front of
the doors for two hours. They want to be the first to have information
and help. Three Finnish officers and an interpreter are there
to welcome these people who come needing help. The opening hours
are on Tuesdays between 1300 and 1600, but often they will close
later, because there will still be people waiting in the street.
are now four houses, one in Modrica, one in Bratunac, one in Janja,
which opened two weeks ago, and this one in Bijeljina. The next
house to be opened will be in Zvornik, but the date is not known
at this moment. It forms a kind of humanitarian chain along the
eastern border with Serbia. Its main task is to support the minority
returns process. This means they collect information about the
problems the native people have and also the project requests
for CIMIC and donors.
Finnish Capt. Harry Kantola, CIMIC press information officer,
underlined that they "have had an extremely good start with
the international organisations, non-governmental organisations
and the other military forces working in this area".
"A mobile CIMIC house"
"The work of CIMIC is not sitting in the office, but working
in the field among the people," he added. Actually, the CIMIC
team also patrols the area and can evaluate the problems of the
local people. "It is a mobile CIMIC house," said Capt.
Pekka Iivari, a member of the team. And it is also an opportunity
to show SFOR presence. In fact, according to Capt. Kantola, the
permanent CIMIC House is just an "additional point of contact
where we can discuss and try to solve the problems and questions
we cannot solve in the field." As the Officer Commanding
the Finnish National Support Element and senior representative
of the Finnish Contingent, Lt. Col. Kristian Forsell, said in
his speech: "we must not forget though, that CIMIC officers
also provide this very same information everywhere they drive
in their patrol cars."
So, good luck to the new CIMIC House in Bijeljina.
Nations of SFOR: Finland