CURRENT SITUATION (2002)
the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in December 1995, the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina
stopped. Today, although there are no bullets flying, there are still wars of
a different nature.
A silent ethnic war is still very much alive within
the country. Dayton managed to divide the country into two sections, The Republic
of Serbska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina (FBH). Within the
RS, if you are not of Serbian origin you are in the minority and usually in the
back of the line when it comes to jobs and services. Within FBH, there is a patchwork
of regions where one ethnic group holds control over the others depending on who
was in control when the war ended. The people are living side by side but the
lines of discrimination are still drawn. In many cases, people wish to return
home but are unable due to political bias. This is a war that St. David's will
not touch. We assist where we are invited, regardless of the political and ethic
mix of a region. With this policy, we feel that we are not a party to any favoritism
and thus not adding to this complex problem.
Another type of war is the
psychological war in the mind and hearts of those who lost loved ones and their
homes. This war is deeply embedded within the population. For more than two generations
over 50 years the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina have experienced
war and Communism. The current transition from Communism to democracy and from
war to peace, simultaneously, has staggering effects. There are no statistics
to measure this problem but one only has to talk to the people to realize the
enormity of this dilemma. One brief example is Marija (name changed) from Sarajevo.
During the war she stayed in Sarajevo with her family and endured daily shelling,
food and water shortages and no electricity for over three years. Her father,
a non-soldier, was called into service and, shortly thereafter, was killed. Later,
on August 28, 1995, she lost her 14-year-old brother as he stood in the bread
queue in the Markele Marketplace. The mortar killed 37, wounded 90, and changed
the tide of the war. Today she lives with her mother in a small rented apartment.
Her mother works, and Marija maintains three jobs. On the surface she seems to
be managing with the past very well. But one only has to look into her eyes to
see that she and thousands of others will need more than this world could offer
to heal the psychological scars that still remain. For these victims of this internal
war, St. David's asks for your prayers of reconciliation.
A war of poverty
and unemployment continues to exist. With an average salary of $195.00 and an
average retirement pension of $73.00 per month, much assistance is still needed
throughout the country. According to entity statistical bureaux, the unemployment
rate in the country has steadied at around 40 percent. In a modern world, 10 percent
unemployment indicates a serious problem. During the war, many rural populations
were forced into the larger cities to escape the front lines of fighting. In major
cities like Sarajevo, Mostar and Banja Luka they have found themselves without
jobs and long-term housing solutions. These Internally Displaced Persons as defined
by UNHCR number over 400,000. A further 426,000 people have refugee status outside
of Bosnia-Herzegovina. People will return if given the right opportunities and
humanitarian aid to do so. In the past 12 months the encouraging news is that
80,000 have returned home. One of St. David's objectives is to promote the return
of citizens to their communities where they lived before the war in self-sufficiency.
the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed seven years ago, today it is difficult to
witness seven years of peacetime progress. This is in many ways no fault of the
victims of the conflict, but rather the lack of publicity, funds, and the fact
that it takes time to organize the relief of an entire country. Bosnia-Herzegovina,
not much larger than Switzerland, was devastated. Entire communities were uprooted
and forced into major cities and to foreign countries. Many dream of returning
to their homes but in many cases it is not possible without the initial catalyst
to begin the return, which includes the reconstruction of homes, water and electrical
systems, jobs, and the removal of land mines. In Christian communities, the first
element to facilitate return is the Church. Once the Church is functioning, people
begin to return. With the exception of land mine removal, St. David's looks to
assist communities in the areas of humanitarian relief that initiate programs
that promote the return of citizens to their communities.
Our plan for
2003 is to push programs that allow people to take ownership in what we offer.