A chain of Hope
Lt. Philippe Mouret
First published in
SFOR Informer#133, February 28, 2002
The soldiers of the Hellenic Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(BiH) distributed humanitarian aid in Sarajevo and Gorazde
Feb. 20. They went to Austria to transport goods collected
by Graz and other municipalities.
Sarajevo - A detachment from the Hellenic battalion, (HELBA;
see SFOR Informer No.
131, Jan. 31, 2002) commanded by Lieutenant Athanasios
Vazikas found its way through the narrow, old-town section
of Sarajevo's streets known as Stari Grad. The two lorries
transported humanitarian aid coming from Austria.
More than 600 kg of black honey for people suffering from
pulmonary tuberculosis was unloaded. Mr. Pavo Urban-Ibruljevic
personally funded this 10,000 KM (€5,112) purchase. He
was a diplomat during the last war and was Alija Izetbegovic's
special representative in Austria. Food for nearly one hundred
families was also included, as well as toys for Urbanjusa
Kindergarten, collected with the help of Mrs. Petritsch, the
wife of the High Representative.
Mr. Fehim Skaljic, chief executive of the municipality of
Stari Grad, described his town. It has 50,000 inhabitants.
Elderly people represent 32 percent of the population and
the unemployment rate is as high as 35 percent. The municipality
provides food for 2,500 people. Two centres distribute cooked
meals; 200 families who are unable to go get the food due
to illness or age, receive meals at home. The richness of
the Stari Grad architectural heritage once allowed the town
to count on tourism to provide employment. However, nowadays
those sites must be de-mined, which is what Civil Security
At the end of the morning, the two HELBA lorries finished
their distribution at the CARITAS Non-Governmental Organ-isation
(NGO) medical centre situated in the suburb of Stup. There
they left medical equipment and childrens' clothes.
Across the IEBL
Gorazde - In the early afternoon, five other Greek lorries,
still led by Vazikas, were welcomed by Mr. Fehim Skaljic who
is in charge of the Red Cross Committee centre of Bosansko-Podrinjski
Canton situated in Gorazde.
The vehicles delivered 15,000 KM (€7,669) of clothes
and the same value of building tools. Returnees in the area
are the beneficiaries (see
SFOR Informer No. 128, Dec. 12, 2001): Bosniacs in Republika
(Srpska (RS) in Foca, Rogatica, Rudo and Visegrad) or Bosnian-Serbs
in the Federation (in Gorazde, Ustikolina and Praca). According
to Causevic, the number of displaced persons in Gorazde is
13,000, of whom 80 percent are Bosniacs. Three hundred families,
about 1,000 individuals, have already come back. The returns
only really began in 2000 thanks to the completion of the
first rebuilding of homes, due to the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and to NGOs such as the
International Rescue Committee (IRC). More returns, 4,000,
are expected this year. However, the majority of people returning
are elderly, the young are reluctant to return because of
the lack of work.
One end to the other
Col. Thomas Rapatz, Austrian Defence Attaché, is the
motivator behind these distributions. His best partners are
the NGO Farmers Help Farmers and the Austrian Governmental
Aid Organisation ("Hilfswerk Austria"). A former
battalion commander in Graz (South of Austria), he made the
mayors and the population of the region aware of the needs.
The Greek logistic unit has already undertaken five return
trips and will return in March to Graz and Salzburg to receive
products, this time for Srebrenica.
"We are happy to give the best to transport humanitarian
aid which is a part of our mission," concluded Vazikas.
Nations of SFOR: Greece