Conflict and reconciliation in the schools of Eastern Slavonia

The UN is needed there in the future

By Jan Oberg

November 27, 1997

TFF PressInfo 29

Summary

A United Nations mission consisting of Civil Affairs and Civil Police should remain in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium in the Republic of Croatia, after its mandate expires on January 15. UNTAES, the present mission, has achieved impressive results within its very short period of work.

However, vital work remains to be done to provide psychological security, reconciliation and the provision of socio-economic development and equal rights and opportunities for all citizens.

The OSCE, UN as well as international and local NGOs should now give priority to the psycho-social aspects of re-integration. Otherwise many Serbs may leave and Croats not return. If so, the UN and the Croatian government will have failed and we shall witness yet another refugee catastrophe in the Balkans.

UNTAES had asked TFF to analyse and help mitigate conflicts in the school sector of the region.

We conclude that there are still serious problems concerning minority rights, democracy and participation, language and biased textbooks, teachers’ security and overall psychological well-being. More funds are also needed for reconstruction and employment-creation to secure the desired two-way return of Croats and Serbs to where they lived before the war.

There are very few signs of forgiveness. There is a serious feeling of frustration, insecurity and hurt amongst Serb teachers, students and their parents that needs urgently to be addressed. Even young Serbs who are Croatian citizens and want to stay are highly uncertain about their future.

These problems are not insoluble if future missions focus clearly on the human dimensions of reconciliation and long-term community- and peacebuilding and their staff be selected accordingly.

Below we have listed the problems and suggest some initiatives that we think will be helpful. [Read more…]

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