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Foreign Legion helps to rebuild villages

By Cpl. Nicolas Marut
First published in
SFOR Informer #90, June 21, 2000

Borovcici - The Borovcici village, 25 km East from Mostar, in MND Southwest, was completely destroyed during the war. After years of absence, the first inhabitants- about fifteen people from Mostar - came back at the end of April to rebuild their houses of which only the walls remained. But they did not come alone. From May 29 to June 17, a platoon from the 2nd Foreign Engineers Regiment (REG), an organic element of the French Battle Group (GT Fr), came to help them. The legionnaires established their bivouac in the heart of the village.

The operation, co-ordinated by the GT Fr CIMIC cell (see frame), was planned by the 2nd Company of the GT Fr, commanded by Capt. Gomart, The company normally patrols in the Nevesinje valley." They carried out a detailed estimate of the works to be done in this village, after having contacts with the population," explains 1Lt. DE Sercey, commanding the platoon of the 2nd REG.

After that, the work could start. During the first week, a support group, composed of bulldozers and excavators, came to clear piles of rubble that was strewn around the houses. A total of 60 square metres of rubble have been removed, making possible the reconstruction works. The platoon of the 2nd REG arrived one week later and focused its work mainly on the restoration of one house of the village: legionnaires made a concrete floor, roofed it and paved the first floor... "My men often have expertise in this kind of infrastructure work, thanks to their previous experiences," emphasised de Sercey. "For the group it is interesting, because that allows us to teach skills to one another," he continues.

Legionnaires also provided help for special or heavy jobs in some houses. They also distributed the construction materials that was beginning to pile up in the village, and moved it to the different construction areas. This material comes from two sources. Canton n°7 (Mostar), and SFOR, that provided 8 cubic metres of sand and 8.3 of gravel.

The platoon and its support group finally intervened in other villages of the valley. In Krusevjani they dug a trench to clear two fountains. In Hrustam the support group cleared more than 250 square metres of rubble that virtually covered the village. A berm was erected in the village of Prkovici to protect a road from snowdrifts during the winter. Legionnaires returned on June 17 to Mostar-Ortijes. They left behind them a village in full blown reconstruction even though a lot remains to be done"Our presence here gave a real impulse to the works in Borovcici," concluded de Sercey.

French CIMIC

The CIMIC cell of the French BG, based in Mostar-Ortijes, coordinates and plans all actions destined to help the population in its Area of Responsibility (AOR). "Operations as the one in Borovcici are important because they allow us to better implant companies on the fields," underline Maj. Bruno Prout, commander of the cell, whose men are multiplying actions toward the underprivileged. And when means are insufficient, the CIMIC calls on the generosity of BG soldiers. As we did Krusevjani, where 20 reinstalled rebuild their houses. In this village without current water nor electricity, the restoration of the two public fountains required an investment of 500 DMS of material. The CIMIC placed urns for donation in the Mostar-Ortijes camp, and we got the money.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: France
Humanitarian Aid