Bosnian Death Highway
I did not know that I would experience compassion fatigue, and that I would not be able to distance myself from the traumatized Bosnians with whom I was working. My Bosnian American Serb cultural background and my understanding of the language immersed me deeply into the Bosnian situation, and I found myself traumatized each time I set foot on Bosnian soil.
Yet, I knew my strengths in treating trauma in Bosnia were my Bosnian heritage, and mother-tongue skills, along with my experience in trauma treatment. I didn't know at the beginning that I would need to remember to view those skills as an asset, rather than as a liability
Thirteen Years later in Bosnia & Herzegovina
"Thirteen years after the United States brokered the Dayton peace agreement to end the ferocious ethnic war in the former Yugoslavia, fears are mounting that Bosnia, poor and divided, is again teetering toward crisis."
by Dan Bilefsky, Dec. 13, 2008
Categorized in these topics: Bosnia Economics Media Watch Social Memory Violence War
Thirteen years after the United States brokered the Dayton peace agreement to end the ferocious ethnic war in the former Yugoslavia, fears are mounting that Bosnia, poor and divided, is again teetering toward crisis.
For the first time in years, talk of the prospect of another war is creeping into conversations across the ethnic divide in Bosnia, a former Yugoslav republic that the Dayton agreement divided into two entities, a Muslim-Croat Federation and a Serbian Republic.
The power-sharing agreement between former foes has always been tense. Now, however, the uneasy peace has been complicated by Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008, which many here worry could prompt the Serbian Republic to follow suit, tipping the region into a conflict that could fast turn deadly.
The peace agreement, negotiated at a United States Air Force base near Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995, accomplished its goal of ending a savage three-and-a-half-year war in which about 100,000 people were killed, a majority of them Muslims. A million more Muslims, Serbs and Croats were driven from their homes, while much of this rugged country’s infrastructure was destroyed.
But the decentralized political system that Dayton engineered has entrenched rather than healed ethnic divisions. Even in communities where Serbs, Muslims and Croats live side by side, some opt to send their children to the same schools, but in different shifts.
And the country’s leaders are so busy fighting one another that they are impeding Bosnia from progressing. Locked in an impasse of mutual recrimination are Haris Silajdzic — the Muslim in the country’s three-member presidency, who has called for the Serbian Republic to be abolished — and the Bosnian Serb prime minister, Milorad Dodik, who is supported by Russia and Serbia and who has dangled the threat that his republic could secede.
Bosnia, which has received more than $18 billion in foreign aid since 1995, remains a ward of the West, its security guaranteed by 2,000 European Union peacekeepers.