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1) Basic Information

1. Outline

Country Name Bosnia and Herzegovina MAP
Capital Sarajevo
Population

4,380,000(sources: research in 1991, although the number of the actual population is much less than this number since there are many refugees from nearby countries)

Area 51,000 k㎡ (1/7 of Japan)
Ethnic Groups

Bosnian (48%), Serb (37.1%),Croat (14.3%), other (0.6%) (2000)

Languages Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian
Religions

Muslim, Orthodox, Roman Catholic

sources: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Official Web Site

CountryName Republic of Croatia MAP
Capital Zagreb
Population

4,440,000 (sources: research in 2001)

Area 56,542 k㎡ (4 times larger than Kyushu)
Ethnic Groups

Croat (89.6%), Serb (4.54%)

Languages Croatian, Serbian, Other
Religions

Roman Catholic, Orthodox

sources: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Official Web Site

CountryName Serbia and Montenegro MAP
Capital

Belgrade  
*Congress and governmental buildings are located in
Belgrade, however it is not stipulated in the Constitution.

Population

10,600,000

Area 102.173 k㎡ (1/4 of Japan)
Ethnic Groups

Serb, Montenegrin, Albanian

Languages Serb
Religions

Orthodox, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Other

sources: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Official Web Site

2. Situation of Conflict

The eruption of conflict, and the tragedy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Following the death of President Tito (Josip Broz), who had made efforts in maintaining the federal system of the country, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was faced with the transition from communism to democracy as well as a market economy. Such dramatic change in the political and economic systems triggered a sudden social instability.

As a result of this instability, there was a rapid emergence of politicians in each republic who wished to increase their own power by utilizing nationalism, which consequently led to the eruption of conflict. People who had been living in peace with one another were forced into a situation where they had no choice but to fight with those who had long been their neighbors. It is said that 2,000,000 people were forced from their homes to became refugees or IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples), losing everything, and left with many traumas.

3. Local Needs

Repetitive Conflict, and Unchanging Needs: “Psychological Care and Assistance for Self Support”

In 1994, when JEN began its activities in the former Yugoslavia, the conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina was still raging, and there were many refugees in both Croatia and Serbia Montenegro. Holding fears that they “would not be able to return home” in their protracting lives as refugees, the refugees were in need of psychological care and assistance for self support.

After the peace accord that was signed in December 1995, many refugees and IDPs began to resettle in Bosnia. Needs to rebuild people's lives therefore were high, as well as promote the return of minorities.

In 1998, with the intensification of the Kosovo conflict, new refugees and IDPs emerged. This was only exacerbated with the NATO bombings, as more and more people newly became refugees or IDPs in areas where aid was seldom.

Even after the latter half of 1999, when the conflict had finally died down, problems remained in abundance: the reestablishment and reconstruction of a land completely destroyed, the resettlement of returnees, and the settling in of refugees in their respective host countries.


2) Activities in the Former Yugoslavia

1. JEN's Course of Action

By simultaneously opening 5 offices throughout Yugoslavia, we were careful from the initial stages to provide support fairly and from a neutral position. When commencing activities in Bosnia Herzegovina, we did so with bases in both entities (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republica Srpska).

We did not limit our support to refugees and IDPs, rather expanded it to “those who were forced to live harsh lives” as a result of the conflict, which included locals who had received the refugees, as well as people who had chosen to remain in the lands of conflict.

In various places throughout the former Yugoslavia, we provided support that was most suited and needed in each area at the time. The JEN international staff mainly only coordinated, while we chose local psychologists, social workers, architects, vets, and technicians to carry out the projects. We were therefore able to conduct a wide range of activities.

2. Previous projects

Psycho-social Projects
【 Psychosocial Project, Children's Theatres, and Distribution of “Dream Bags” 】

Ex.) Psychosocial Project (Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Refugees who do not know if they can ever return to their homes. Returnees who are faced with the harsh reality of rebuilding their lives from scratch. It takes time to overcome the loss of family and possessions from conflict alone; these people were faced with much, much more.

Targeting such people carrying various anxieties and sorrows, we conducted group therapy workshops aimed at psychological care. People from a wide range of age groups attended, and engaged in activities that had the highest number of requests from each community center; for example, knitting, sports, and painting, among others. For those who had stayed locked up inside their homes, the first step is the biggest, and also the most difficult. One aim of these activities was to provide a few moments in the people's lives when they could forget their sorrows. They were able to support each other and share their troubles, as well as information about daily life and repatriation with others who had gone through much like themselves.

Ex.) Children's Theatre (Croatia)

This was one of the first projects we started in 1994. With the help of a local children's theatre in Osijek, we were able to hold many performances at local refugee/IDP centers, NGO community centers, as well as the children's theatre itself. The parody version of “Little Red Riding Hood” was a great hit among the children, and was able to provide a moment when they could forget the difficult reality of their lives as refugees.