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SFOR support to Solidarité

By Airman Christophe Lehmann

First published in SFOR Informer #66, 21 July, 1999

Sarajevo - Solidarité is a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) created in 1979 to work in Afghanistan. It has been present in the territory of Bosnian and Hercegovina since 1992 with a staff of about 40 people. It aims to bring relief to people who lost everything during the war.

The organisation developed a programme of repair of individual houses that have been seriously damaged during the conflict. One target area for this project is the neighbourhood of Stup, located behind Sarajevo airport, the aim being to allow displaced persons to go back to their pre-war homes.

Solidarité found that dealing with the project on its own was difficult, so they asked the French Battalion Civil Military Task Force (CIMIC) for assistance. An agreement was signed with French Command (COMFRANCE) on December 26, 1998. SFOR assistance to the project has since passed to a CIMIC Functional Team from HQ SFOR Combined Joint Civil Military Force.

The project began the same month when the Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) undertook de-mining of the area. This was followed by a preparation phase which including surveying, research on the nature ofe future returnees, and analysis of the socio-economical situation of the area to make sure there were job opportunities.

The reconstruction work started on June 28, 1999. It includes a total of 216 houses and when completed, will allow 260 families (1,000 persons) to move back to their pre-war houses. Twelve local companies are working on the project which includes masonry work, joinery, concreting, roofing, earth works, plumbing and drainage and electrical installations.

The total project will cost around DM five million, and will mainly be financed by the European Commission. The work should be completed by the beginning of October.

Munira Ramovic and Hasija Selimovic both lost their husbands during the war. Now they live with their families in Stup and are overwhelming happy that SFOR and Solidarité wants to help them rebuild their houses. "I don't believe this is happening to us. We have no money, so it would be impossible to rebuild the houses without help. Actually, I didn't see a future for my family and myself. We are six persons living off 300 German Marks a month. It's hard, almost impossible to live with so little money. But, we manage to do it in a way," Hasija Selimovic said.

In the single street of Kasindolska in Stup, a total of 42 men and youths, were taken away during the war. None of them have returned. They are registered as missing persons. "We are hoping they are still alive. But in my heart I know my husband is dead," said Munira Ramovic.

According to French Captain Frederic Vincent of the CIMIC Functional Team, there is a very strong will to get on with the future in this area, and a strong feeling of community. By October, SFOR and Solidarité will have ensured that this small community will have secure housing in which to continue their lives.

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