One year later in Foca / Srbinje

Maj. Matthias Fieser
First published in
SFOR Informer#157, February 6, 2003

Jan. 05, 2002, the German CIMIC office in Foca/Srbinje opened in presence of the then commander SFOR, Lt. Gen. John B. Sylvester. Three soldiers of the CIMIC Company from Rajlovac and three interpreters performed their daily service in this small town located in Republika Srpska (RS), close to the Inter Entity Boundary Line (IEBL).

Foca / Srbinje - The CIMIC office has several essential tasks: to liaise with the Battle Group Company in the Area of Responsibility (AoR); with international organisations and non-governmental-organisations; with the regional government, as well as with local administrations and officials.
Co-operation with UNHCR
In one year 500 building requests and over 450 credit requests were taken, more than 1,600 visitors, visited the office with requests. In addition, approx. 800 external appointments were made.
Figures show the importance of the external office of the CIMIC Company for the area of Srbinje. High-ranking visits showed that the Office in Foca was well known, far over the boundaries of the German Italian Battle Group. Most importantly, the visit of the Minister of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Peter Struck, should be mentioned.
Yet more important than numbers, data and names and facts are concealed behind facts. For example, a pensioner couple Subasic from Lisovici, previously inhabited a windowless cellar and has been moved into the transit centre in Lisovici. Also, the family Haso from Ustikolina, that can now look forward to the delivery of windows from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The family can finally inhabit two rooms in their house.
The CIMIC office also supported the schools and the kindergarten of Srbinje. German soldiers distributed small Christmas gifts to the 82 children from the kindergarten.
Asked for the tasks of the office, Fieser said: "Our major task is to offer an interface between SFOR and all citizens from the municipality and the surrounding countryside. The office is freely accessible; everyone can directly contact us.
Winterization project
Some citizens in the municipality don't have the possibility to visit our main office. Therefore we operate seven external offices in the surrounding villages. For the moment our special attention is on the winterization project, funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany. We are responsible for 29 distressed families, we provide them with food, firewood and groceries. We also provide them with beds and ovens. The office from Foca moves eight tons food in close co-operation with the patrols of the Battle Group Company settled in Filipovici, and approx. nine tons of firewood. This ambitious project should be completed by the middle of February 2003. The team works under high pressure, in order to reach this date.
For this reason we will celebrate our one-year's anniversary only after we finish this job"
For the soldiers from the CIMIC office, the work is not an easy. Poverty and are still, years after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, omnipresent. "The ratio of the citizens in and around Srbinje is low compared to the needs that exists in other communities in and around this country.That is why the CIMIC office in Srbinje tries, besides the everyday business, to reach as much as possible children and young people. "The children and the youth are the future of this country," said Fieser at the conclusion.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Germany
CIMIC, Humanitarian Aid

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Photos: Courtesy of German CIMIC unit

Sgt. 1st Class Wolfgang Stähr prepares the horse to deliver foods and some assets for the winter.

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Dragomir Obrenovic coming back home, with the food distributed by the German CIMIC Unit.

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Sometimes it is not easy to supply isolated hamlets. The horse is the only way to carry out this task.

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Maj. Fieser (r.) and Pfc. Dunboric (l.) often visit farms, gathering information about the needs of the inhabitants.