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Balkan: On 10th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, UN recommits to rehabilitation

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As the United Nations prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica during the Balkan wars, a senior official has reaffirmed the UN's commitment to help heal the wounds in the town that was the site of a massacre of Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces after they took over the town designated by the Security Council as a "safe area."
Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General for Public Information and Communications, said he hoped that the tragedy of Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II, had taught the global community an important lesson on the need to respond resolutely to systematic attempts to terrorize, expel or murder an entire people.

"As the Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed in his 1999 report on the Fall of Srebrenica, the international community as a whole must accept its share of responsibility for its response to the ethnic cleansing campaign that culminated in the murder of some 7,000 unarmed civilians in Srebrenica," Mr. Tharoor told the UN News Service after meeting at UN Headquarters in New York with two survivors of the massacre.

"Ten years after those tragic events, they continue to haunt us and serve as a reminder that such atrocities must be met with all necessary means and that there must be the political will to carry the policy through," said Mr. Tharoor, after discussing UN rehabilitation efforts in Srebrenica with Munira Beba Hadzic, Director of Bosfam, a Bosnian non-governmental organization (NGO) involved in an income-generating project for female war victims in the Srebrenica region, and her colleague Magbula Divovic, both survivors of the Srebrenica tragedy.

"You will see; we will succeed," were Ms. Hadzic's parting words to Mr. Tharoor after the meeting.

Today, various international development projects are underway in the Srebrenica region, including a UN Development Programme (UNDP) regional project which aims to improve local governance and the general socio-economic environment. These projects are being undertaken in close cooperation with the local authorities with an understanding that it is upon the people of the region now to make these international assistance and resources productive and functional.

Founded during the war in 1994, Bosfam promotes reconciliation and strives to improve the quality of life for the local population by setting up income-generating projects. It began with knitting and weaving programmes to provide occupational therapy for women victims of the war.