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Soldier's memory serves BiH

By William Wilczewski
First published in
SFOR Informer #80, February 2, 2000

Rajlovac - The Theatre-wide mission of the GE CIMIC (German Civil Military Co-operation) is the acquisition, evaluation, and assessment of data to be used for aiding refugees and the return of displaced persons. They are also responsible for planning infrastructure reconstruction projects such as buildings and roads, electricity, water supplies, and communications. They do not carry out the actual construction work themselves. The work is contracted to local companies in order to enhance the economic development of Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH). Camp Carreau, in Rajlovac, where the GE CIMIC is located, is named after Capt. Gilles Carreau, who was killed in Sarajevo at the end of the war in July 1995. In April, they hope to start building a therapeutic centre for local children who were disabled during the war. The centre will be located somewhere between Kresevo and Sarajevo. Where is the funding for this project going to come from? Fittingly, according to GE CIMIC Commander Col. Fritz Gehrmann, they are awaiting a possible donation from Jean-Claude Carreau of Luxembourg, father of Gilles. "A donation for the young children will be a memorial to his son," said Gehrmann. The unit also has other major ongoing projects. They have two in the Republic of Srpska (Modrica and Derventa), and two in the Federation (Breza and Kresevo), as well as other minor ones. "It is necessary to build houses, and reconstruct schools and hospitals for the sustainment of the people who want to return to their old homes," said Gehrmann who is proud of his unit's accomplishments. Recently they completed the construction of the first part of a road which will be a direct connection from Kresevo to Mostar. Now, people must first travel to Kiseljak, then Sarajevo, and on to Mostar. "The people are very glad about this," added Gehrmann, who figures the road should be completed by the beginning of next summer. "To see the young children and mothers laughing and appreciating our work motivates my soldiers," he said. "We think there has been a change of minds in the mothers and children. That is a little step, but an important step for the future." The unit is a mix of 61 soldiers from all parts of Germany and will be in Theatre until the early summer. They also have 12 local civilians (mainly interpreters) and 6 local engineers working for them. They work for HQ SFOR Combined Joint Civil Military Task Force, and closely with many government and non-government organisations, the OHR, and the UNHCR to co-ordinate their projects. The winter though, has forced them to focus on indoor projects such as heating, electric, plumbing, and painting. "Outdoor construction is near impossible with the situation outside," said Gerhmann. "But the work goes on." To date, the GE CIMIC has built 641 dwelling units and plan to hand over 842 flats and dwellings to the municipalities. The total amount for the reconstruction work is approximately 24 million DM, out of which 8 million DM is for the infrastructure within the projects.

Related links: Germany