The conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina began shortly after the republic declared its independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in March 1992 and lasted nearly four years. A cease-fire was called in September 1995. A general framework agreement (the Dayton Agreement) was signed in Dayton, USA on 21 November 1995 and subsequently in Paris, France by the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. The Dayton Agreement secured the continuation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state within internationally recognized borders. It established a number of important principles designed to stabilize the country and allow the process of reconstruction and reconciliation to begin. Among other things, it recognized that the country was comprised of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which controls 51 per cent of the territory, effectively a Bosnian-Croat federation that is further divided along ethnic lines at the cantonal and municipal levels; and Republika Srpska (the Serbian republic), which controls 49 per cent, and where there is no cantonal administration. The two entities are divided by an Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL), which, on the whole, runs along the cease-fire line. The Dayton Agreement also established a 4-km-wide Zone of Separation (ZoS) between the two entities.
As a result of the fighting, some 250,000 people are dead or missing and 200,000 were injured out of a population that numbered 4.4 million in 1991. In addition, approximately 3 million people have been displaced. One lasting legacy of the war is the problem of landmines. Although armed hostilities between the various factions officially ended in December 1995, mines continue to have severe human, social, medical and economic consequences for the country. The effects of landmines are widespread and have an impact at all levels of society.
[...] The United Nations Mine Action Centre (UNMAC) estimates that there are at present over 30,000 mined areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina littered with some 750,000 mines. In accordance with JNA doctrine, efforts were made by the warring parties, and particularly by their engineering sections, to record minefields on paper. After the conflict, many of these maps were turned over to Implementation Force (IFOR) / Stabilization Force (SFOR). In contrast, the use of mines by local militias, other groups and individuals was less controlled and records were rarely kept in these cases. [...]
[...] But it is difficult to develop reconstruction strategies and programmes, and to ensure their implementation, when the extent to which mines will affect a project is unknown. To facilitate economic recovery, greater research about the effects landmines should be undertaken by the relevant government ministries or other concerned agencies. Conclusion : Landmines are a serious problem, which requires a long-term strategy and involvement of the local authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A comprehensive mine action plan consists of three components: mine- clearance, mine-awareness and victim-assistance activities. However, the existence of all three components does not necessarily guarantee effective and efficient risk reduction. [...]
[...] This fact distinguishes Bosnia and Herzegovina from other severely mine-contaminated countries, such as Afghanistan, Angola and Cambodia, where the devices were used in a more indiscriminate manner. II/ The Human Impact : There are several important observations to be made concerning the impact of landmines on the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mines have had a tragic impact upon the lives of many inhabitants and will continue to do so until the devices are destroyed or removed from the ground. [...]
[...] However, it will be particularly difficult for mine victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina to find work. Employment opportunities are generally scarce, and where they do exist, they often involve manual labor, a type of activity in which many mine victims are physically unable to engage. Furthermore, even if physically capable, many victims report that they cannot return to the jobs they held prior to the accident because their posts have been given to someone else by the time the rehabilitation process is completed. [...]
[...] In theory, demining in Bosnia and Herzegovina should benefit from the country's advanced infrastructure: a well-developed communication system, a good road network. However, the pace of demining has been slow and coordination among various organizations lacking. UNMAC to some degree assumed a “coordinating” role and acted as a focal point for information. But there is still no uniform approach to demining or prioritizing mined areas for clearance. With regard to mine-awareness activities, there has been some duplication of efforts, especially with regard to teaching children. [...]
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