O'Neill urges international community to renew its commitment to support reconstruction
Ten years after the massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, the community is still struggling to heal its wounds and rebuild its infrastructure, reports Mercy Corps founder Dan O'Neill after visiting the area.
Monday, July 11, marks 10 years since Serb forces overran the town, which had been designated a United Nations "safe haven," and killed fighting-age Muslim males.
O'Neill, who first visited Srebrenica survivors in 1996, recently returned to the US from a trip spent assessing Mercy Corps' reconstruction programs in Srebrenica and reporting back to Mercy Corps on progress there.
"As survivors honor their dead in Srebrenica this weekend and next week, the international community needs to renew its commitment to rebuilding Srebrenica and helping internal refugees return home," O'Neill said from Tuzla. "In my conversations with local officials and Mercy Corps partners who survived Srebrenica, it was clear that they're seeing less money and less engagement from the international community - we owe them a new commitment."
O'Neill did note some signs of progress.
"Even as the people of Srebrenica look back on that horrific massacre, I found them more forward-looking now than in the past," he said. "They are more concerned with where they're going than where they've been and that's an important step."
Mercy Corps has operated in Bosnia and other areas of the former Yugoslavia since 1993, with a strong programmatic emphasis on returning internal refugees to their pre-war homes, reconciling Muslim survivors with the local Serbs through joint commercial activities, and expanding the ability of civic organizations to advocate for their needs.