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New Dutch CIMIC strategy

By Cpl. David Thomas
First published in
SFOR Informer#103, December 20, 2000

Novi Travnik - The decision was taken the last week of September. Five organisations, in the Dutch area of responsibility (AOR), are changing their CIMIC strategy and action.
"This is a major change for all who are involved. This strategy is quite unique in BiH. We are asking the local authorities to take again their role, because we hope one day we can leave," explained Maj. Loek Frusch, Chief CIMIC for the Dutch Battle Group.
Thanks to a common agreement with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Office of High Representatives (OHR), United Nations Mission in Bosnia-Hercegovina (UNMIBH), Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), SFOR changed its CIMIC activities plans for the two next months.
"There's no more physical projects for the moment. Now we must, as an international community, push and help different local authorities to prepare plans for next year," said Frusch, 4th Mechanised Battalion Infantry Regiment "Johan Willem Friso"
With proximity and local activities ongoing, Capt. Jan Melis of the Dutch Navy and Sgt. 1st Class Octavianus Vitalis are always working on the ground, for example in Novi Travnik. The International Community simply decided to face municipalities and cantons with their responsibilities.
"They must take initiatives, make choices, we will be there to support them. It's an opportunity for them to take again their responsibilities, to assume fully their role as representatives of the population," said Frusch.
"We let them have winter time to work out a schedule of conditions. As soon as spring is here, we will carry out their plans under some conditions. The plans should include all minorities, and have the local Parliament's agreement. This way we can improve our collaboration with the civilian authorities," he said.
"There's another way to explain our new strategy: after the war, we gave them fish, then we started to teach them how to fish. Now, we are still teaching them how to fish, but we hope the next stage will be: fish by yourself ! We'll see where we can support you," he said.

Related links: CIMIC
Nations of SFOR: Netherland