The United Nations Monday launched a drive to raise millions of dollars for development of the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, the site of a massacre in 1995.
The United Nations hopes to raise as much as $12.5 million for development in Srebrenica over three years. The Bosnian town has been languishing since Bosnian Serbs murdered as many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys there during the Bosnian war.
Seven years later, development officials still hope to lure refugees back to Srebrenica as part of their plan for rebuilding the area's economy. However, Jacques Klein, the U.N. special envoy for Bosnia, concedes many people who fled in the wake of the massacre will likely never return.
"It is surely too traumatic to go back because we have thousands of women without men. What do they do when they come back? Now, we're looking at issues such as collective housing where women can live together and mutually support each other," he said. "We're looking at all possible options. But I think it is perfectly understandable that some will never go back."
The international community has been accused of failing Srebrenica in 1995, during its time of greatest need. The United Nations provided the beleaguered Bosnian town with minimal protection, despite reports the Serb army was actively engaged in ridding Bosnia of its Muslim population. A handful of Dutch soldiers were assigned there as defenders. They stood by helplessly as huge numbers of Bosnian Serb soldiers attacked and rounded up the male population.
A new U.N. report last month admitted the Dutch peacekeepers were given an impossible mission.
The population of Srebrenica before 1995 was about 37,000. That number today is down to about 7,500. The massacre is widely considered Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two.