ICG Press Release

Hrair Balian (100034.2220@compuserve.com)
Mon, 19 Jan 1998 08:00:42 -0500

Press Release

ICG Publishes Report on Return of Displaced Serbs to Drvar, Grahovo and

19 January 1998

The International Crisis Group (ICG) publishes today a report on the return
of displaced Serbs to the municipalities of Drvar, Bosansko Grahovo and

The 18-page report, entitled Hollow Promise? Return of Bosnian Serb
Displaced Persons to Drvar, Bosansko Grahovo and Glamoc, examines the
prospects for displaced Serbs from these three municipalities in Canton 10
in the Federation to make it home.

Before the war, Serbs formed overwhelming majorities in all three
municipalities. In Drvar, for example, they comprised 97 percent of the
population. However, the pre-war inhabitants fled in the wake of the 1995
Bosniac-Croat advance and today the region is controlled by the Hrvatsko
vijece obrane (Bosnian Croat Army, HVO).

In Bosnias local elections on 13 and 14 September, parties representing
displaced Serbs won either a majority or a plurality of council seats in
all three municipalities. Since then, displaced Serbs have begun
spontaneously moving back to their homes with the result that by
mid-January, some 800 heads of household had returned to Drvar alone.

Returns have been complicated by obstructionism both from the authorities
in Republika Srpska, which have viewed Serbs wishing to return to the
Federation as traitors, and the HDZ, the ruling Croat nationalist party,
which has attempted during the past two years to consolidate the ethnic
predominance of Croats in all areas under HVO control. In addition, the
international community has been poorly prepared to deal with spontaneous
returns to Canton 10.

The fate of Drvar returnees is critical to the prospects of refugee returns
elsewhere in Bosnia and is being closely monitored by other displaced Serbs
in Western Republika Srpska and in Brcko. If Serbs are able to return to
Drvar, this will free up housing in Republika Srpska for displaced Bosniacs
and Croats. If, however, their return to Drvar is obstructed, displaced
Serbs elsewhere will be discouraged from attempting to return to other
Federation municipalities.

The report concludes with a series of suggestions which, if implemented,
could help facilitate returns to the three municipalities.

For further information and copies of the report, contact ICG in Sarajevo
at (387-71) 447 845, Brussels at (322) 502-9038, or Washington at (1-202)
986-9750 after January 20. The report can also be accessed at the Web site
at http://www.intl-crisis-group.org after January 22.