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Operation Domino

By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#117, July 11, 2001

Non Governmental Organisations involved in the project:
- Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe (HELP)
- United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
- Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Capljna - Directed by the Civil Military Co-operation team (G9) of Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE), the divisional engineering branch are carrying out works consisting of de-mining and clearing rubble in two resettlements in Prebilovci area, Capljna municipality. Known as Operation Domino, International Organisations, Non Governmental Organisations (NGO's) and the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Government are involved, as well as SFOR, in its duty stated in the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP), Annex 1A.
Since the war, Civil Military Co-operation teams have been working to improve living conditions and assist local authorities in rebuilding the country. One of the most difficult tasks to accomplish since the end of the war has been the return of the Displaced Persons and Refugees (DPRE's). The increasing number of returns means that the most prevalent need that DPRE have is reconstruction. Operation Domino is aimed at encouraging the return process in the Southern area (Mostar, Stolac, Trebinje, Capljna, Nevesinje), as well as promoting the inter-agency plan of the International Community to support the Property Law Implementation Plan.
At present, it is focused on two resettlements on both sides of a hill known as Prebilovci area at the South of Capljna, a city in Federation Canton 7, about 35 kilometres south of Mostar. "With this project, our intention is to return to normality in the area, in accordance with the GFAP" said Capt. Javier Munoz Lopez, MND-SE G9 Plans and Operations. "This is the first time that we have worked in a context like this, involving so many organisations and opstinas" continued Munoz.
The process started with the selection by United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of houses in ruins. This was reported to SFOR through its MND-SE CIMIC team, which set about sending Explosive and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams to de-mine the area, and later the engineering branch to perform the task of cleaning the rubble from the returnee's site; simultaneous work performed by the two teams. In the return site several heavy machines and trucks are working. "Despite the debris containing so much metal, the task is not difficult. About three houses per week are cleaned," explained Staff Sgt. Juan Crego, Spanish Engineering. During this process, the returnee property owner is present in accordance with the law. At this moment about 60 houses have been de-mined and cleared.
Once the area is ready, the NGO's assisting the process perform their role, by providing construction materials and personnel to rebuild the pre-war houses. The BiH government also participates. Finally the returnee is able to take occupation of his pre-war home. They are mainly Bosnian-Serbs, who were displaced in Republika Srpska, in the area of Trebinje. Meanwhile, they live in a collective house, where they share all the facilities in communal style. "I have been waiting for two years for my house to start being rebuilt," said a returnee who takes care of his plot.
Inhabitants favour the manner of this operation, with SFOR's presence providing a safe environment and stepping up the return process.

Related link: Nations of SFOR: Spain
CIMIC, Engineering