scene of the genocide against the Muslim population 1995

Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegowina

What happens when war is over?

24 years after the end of the Serbian-Bosnian war the region Srebrenica-Bratunac still struggles for redevelopment. The unemployment rate, most of all for young people, is extremely high. Many young Bosnians have left the country for good. There are practically no industries left in the area providing work. This seems due to lack of support by the government, the insufficient road network and the insecure political situation.

A difficult start for repatriates

Therefor most of the repatriates are trying to make a living by farming. But this is difficult and leaves many dependant from at least partial support. Most of the houses systematically destroyed by the Serbian army could not be rebuilt by returners out of lack of financial means or because destruction was such, that it was not possible anymore. The area is still dominated by ruins. Nevertheless many repatriates were seeking shelter in the destroyed houses by lack of other possibilities and try to make a home there until they have the means to renovate or are helped by an NGO to a new house. Support by government is practically nonexistent or made dependant on ethnical affiliation although this is officially denied. Financial donations made on behalf of Srebrenica often do not reach the area. Most of the side roads are unpaved and not passable in difficult conditions like heavy rain or snow. Snow clearing is only provided for the main roads, side roads are closed in winter conditions (unless people take private initiative) and leave villages unreachable for weeks, often turning the living conditions there dramatic.
Danger of land mines stays high in the area.

Ethnic tensions stay high in the Srebrenica area

Ethnic tensions are on the rise again, the political development in the last years and increasing pressure by radical islamic groups contribute to this insecurity. Of about 10000 inhabitants in the region ca 6000 are ethnic Serbs and only ca 4000 Muslim. Before the war the Muslim population of the area came up to 20000 persons.
We visited Potocari, the former UN quarters in the battery factory of 1995, several villages near Potocari and Srebrenica, sites of the mass flight to Tuzla and the genocide during the bosnian-Serbian war in 1995, as well as some villages near Bratunac and along the river Drina. The beauty of the hilly landscape, its lush vegetation and the hospitality of the inhabitants cannot hide the wounds the war has left behind. The returnees are facing an insecure economical and political future.

The work of the Farmers help Farmers organisation in Bosnia

The series in Potocari/Srebrenica and surrounding villages like Jaglici in Bosnia- Herzegovina/Republica Srbska was taken beginning with March 2012 and continued at the annual funeral and the Mars Mira (march for peace) in July 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017. The visits and the insight in the area were made possible by Bauern helfen Bauern BhB, one of the last NGOs still working continually in the area Srebrenica/Bratunac since the end of the war 1995. Since its founding year 1993 BhB has not only financed the construction of more than 1500 wooden houses for returnees, but has also funded many other projects like bakeries, purchase of agricultural machines, medical practices, market gardens, water projects, a school for music and countless other projects.