This month, the team at MAG Bosnia is celebrating the completion of work on the outskirts of Rotimlja village, two and a half hours south of the capital city of Sarajevo. 124 acres of land have been cleared and a total of 766 acres has been returned to the local community because of the support of donors from around the world. More than 2,000 people, including Emir (pictured above) can now use the land to hunt, collect firewood, raise livestock, and develop for agriculture.
In the early 1990s, this village was the scene of warfare between Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian forces. Concrete bunkers, like the one pictured above, are still scattered across the land. The contamination in this area is predominantly made up of deadly devices called bounding fragmentation mines. These devices pose a deadly risk to anyone in the area, as they are designed to be triggered by a trip-wire that propels the mine two feet into the air before detonating, spraying fragments in a 100 foot radius around the device.
Pieces of a bounding mine found in the Bosnian forest
Emir fought in the conflict with the Bosnian forces, losing an eye and suffering leg injuries in a mine accident. For the past 20 years, he has lived with his mother, wife, and young daughter on the land where he was injured. Today, he can now utilize 17 acres of his own land that he could not access before clearance from MAG teams.
He told us: “Land not covered by rocks is precious. Many people here grow potatoes and grains, and need access to their forests for firewood. We have always been careful about where our children go, only letting them play around a monument in the village, and teaching them to respect the mine signs.”
Since beginning work in this area just over a year ago, MAG has found and destroyed 183 mines. Nedžad Grebović, a local MAG deminer, said: “I’m proud to use my skills to help clear my country of landmines and unexploded bombs."
MAG’s work in Bosnia & Herzegovina would not be possible without the generous support of the governments of the United States, Sweden, and Germany, as well as the Marshall Legacy Institute.