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Return to Kratine

By Cpl. Nicolas Marut
First published in
SFOR Informer #88, May 24, 2000

Kratine - The village of Kratine was once primarily populated with about 800 Bosniacs, but today it is completely destroyed. Overgrown and drowned in greenery, it is situated in the Republika Srpska, 20km west of Foca.

Since the end of April the former inhabitants of this village, now numbering about 100 and all having relocated in Sarajevo, have been working towards their eventual return. Groups of fourteen inhabitants return to the village every 15 days to rebuild their homes little by little and then return back to Sarajevo. About 100 of the previous inhabitants of Kratine are involved in the project. Providing a helping hand in their efforts, the UNHCR has supplied them with a large tent, an electric generator and some food.

The German, 3rd "Schneefüchse" platoon, 4th Company, based in Rajlovac is responsible for providing a secure environment in the area in which the village lies.

"We go to the village every two or three days," said 2Lt. Stefan Beyer, commander of the platoon.
A member of the village has been designated by his peers to be the central SFOR point of contact.
"We discuss things with him, and he explains to us what problems they're encountering. I then forward the information to the company commander, Capt. Lutz Kuhn, who updates the news to the centre of operations."

Cpl. Christian Kubik, who has mastered the Bosnian language, considerably supports their efforts. Inhabitants are always very surprised to hear an SFOR soldier speaking their own language," Kubik says with a smile. "They've even become more friendly to us."

Thanks to this good working relationship and confidence in their abilities, the co-operation between the patrol and the inhabitants is total, and that is a good starting point because the difficulties the returnees cope with are numerous.

"Their main demand concerns the renovation of the road that leads to the village," said Kubik. "It's in very bad shape, and that hinders their ability to transport the material to rebuild their houses."

Other problems include insufficient quantities of food, difficult relations with the surrounding villages, and mines.During a patrol visit on May 15, inhabitants of Kratine informed the German patrol of the existence of a minefield close to the village.

For Beyer and his men it is a long-term project, but thanks to them, the villagers of Kratine can work in peace throughout the laborious reconstruction of their village.

Related links:
The Nations of SFOR: Germany
SFOR at work