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Small road, huge difference

By 1lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer #98, October 11, 2000

Korace - The soldiers of the Finnish construction platoon are welcomed as dear friends and guests of honour. So are Lt. Martina Lindquist and her team-mates from the NORPOL CIMIC. They have given the citizens of Korace a new road, which makes it possible for 48 families to move back to their homes. To show their appreciation, all were invited to celebrate.
"The road is only 1.8 km long, but opens up an area in the Croat village of Korace which has been locked out since 1992. Forty-eight families lived in this area. Most of them want to move back," said Linquist.
Together with Danish Capt. Michael Ljungberg and Finnish Capt. Antti Peuralahti, they make up Team 6 of the NORPOL Brigade Civil Military Co-operation (CIMIC). They monitor Brod municipality, where the warfront heavily marked the villages about. During the war, all of Korace's 520 houses where completely destroyed. Now, families are starting to clean and rebuild their homes, helped by SFOR and several international organisations. The 48 houses, now accessible because of the new road, have been isolated since 1992.
"Already busloads of returnees have come to inspect their homes, so it seems the word is out about the new road," said Lindquist. It was the returnees themselves who started constructing the road. They collected money among themselves to hire two trucks and an excavator. They got free gravel from a river near by.
"When we saw this initiative, we were very keen on speeding up the process. The trouble for them was to get the machines," said Ljungberg.
The Finnish construction platoon used eight days to finish the road.
"Thank you, we wouldn't be here if you weren't here with us. We are really grateful," said Ahto Golemovic. The spokesperson for the village, and several other villagers, served lunch and drinks to the Finnish constructors and the CIMIC representatives. They also gave a tour through the area, now opened because of the new road. Families were in full swing cleaning their homes.
"This area would have been forgotten if SFOR didn't build the road. Our families have lived in this part for at least 200 years. After the war, it looked like Hiroshima," said Golemovic.
Another villager, Ivo Jerkovic, says they now are starting to feel better about the situation.
"But many are still to scared to move back. Some are afraid they will die merely by the shock of seeing their destroyed homes," he said.
"But although Korace is in the Republika Srpska, this is were we have our properties, and this is were we want to live. We will do everything we can to rebuild our village, but we still hope the international community will help us in this process," said Golemovic.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Finland
Engineers
CIMIC