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Czechs in RS

By Cpl. Sébastien Pisani
First published in
SFOR Informer#110, April 4, 2001

Prijedor - This is a white house as the others. Only the military vehicles parked nearby and the sign over the front door remind that SFOR soldiers live in this building. "It is very important to be mixed with the local population," said Czech Capt. Dusan Ryban, commander of the CIMIC centre in Prijedor. "Access to our office does not require a preliminary permission. Easier contact with the people is made."
Czech servicemen have also a considerable advantage. "Our language is not very remote from the local language. With some effort on both sides, we succeed in understanding." The Prijedor centre team use this asset in the four municipalities it covers, all located in Republika Srpska; the other half of the Czech AOR, which mainly covers Federation, comes to Sanski Most CIMIC centre.
Discussing with some Mljecanica inhabitants, near the Croatian border, a patrol has put the first ranging poles of a Winterization Plan. "Circumstances were favourable. Returning from Croatia with my family, I was lucky to meet some Czech soldiers to whom I spoke about my difficulties. My house was completely destroyed," said Milan Kostic. Thanks to a grant of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), this Bosnian-Croat returnee builds a house today, which will shelter, besides its family, other refugees returning to this stricken zone.
"It was one of the pre-requisites for the 9,340 KM allocation, which served to purchase materials. This house is able to welcome about 25 persons," Ryban said. A project is selected when it is profitable to the whole community. "We are not supporting private initiatives," said the Czech officer.
Some kilometres farther, in Bosanska Dubica/Kozarska Dubica, a factory benefited from Ryban's team care. The Dragas company makes doors and windows in PVC and aluminium. With its 15 employees, this small business is one of the projects, which received a subsidy of the British Department for International Development (DFID).
"This company got 25,000 KM for two new machines. In return, the director of the factory undertook to recruit four new Bosniac employees, because they are in the minority in this municipality and have employment difficulties," said Lt. Pavel Lipowsky. Because of the secondary benefit rule, the factory also had to supply to the Czech CIMIC with the equivalent of 30 percent of the sum, which was paid to it in products going out of its workshop; these products can then be profitable to other projects.
Dragas's doors have been used in Rizvanovici elementary school. Besides big works of infrastructure, with the connection of the village to the electricity network, Prijedor CIMIC centre is also interested in the comfort of the 11 pupils, who are in this establishment. "I was in touch with the Czech organisation Centipede, which supplies help to the children in trouble. I proposed to its president, Mrs Bela Gran Jensen, to invest 20,000 KM for the repairing of four classrooms in Rizvanovici and Hambarine schools," Ryban said.
That humanitarian organisation also provided both establishments in school stationery for artistic education. On the corridor walls, the children's drawings take up passages of Centipede hymn: "Don't let the need for friendship vanish and die." A pleasure flash of lighting gets through Ryban's eyes. Doubtless the impression to have contributed, in his humble level, to improve the situation in BiH.

Prijedor Centre
Small business development projects


Subsidies (KM)

Number of new employees













Prijedor CIMIC centre selected several firms in the four municipalities. If one equates the subsidies paid to new employment generated, less than 5 500 KM have been invested per capita.

Related links: CIMIC
Nations of SFOR: Czech Republic