The inter-ethnic war, aggression and genocide, from 1992 to 1995, left Bosnia and Herzegovina's infrastructure and economy in ruins. Around 2 million people (about half the population) were displaced and unable to return to their homes in safety.
Although progress has since been reported, with almost 1 million people returning back to their homes, the situation is still fragile, much of the war damage still evident, unemployment high, and crime and corruption on the rise.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) is one of the poorest countries in Europe. One-fifth of the population in BH lives below the poverty line; the worst groups are the elderly, women, children, unemployed and returnees. Almost one-third of the population are poor and live just above the poverty line and are at risk to fall below it especially with the current economical crisis. Unemployment of women reaches around 50%.
Social exclusion is a somewhat bigger problem than poverty. Almost over 50% of the population are socially excluded and cannot practice their rights; most of them are returnees and women. Women have been widely affected by the breakdown of the social solidity. After the war, the number of households headed by women augmented to one in four.
Poverty in rural areas is more severe than urban areas. About 80% of the poor live in rural areas and many of them are large families. Most of the heads of these poor families are among the least educated and unemployed.
The country faces a growing problem in the education sector where segregation and discrimination at school is widespread, and marginalised and disadvantaged groups are deprived of quality education.
During the war (1992 - 1995) and immediately after it, Muslim Aid provided emergency relief and emergency care support for the most vulnerable people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 2007, the field office in Bosnia and Herzegovina was set up, to continue with humanitarian work focusing on development projects. Our core programmes aim to help communities left vulnerable after the war, returnees, deprived and vulnerable women and marginalised and socially excluded children.
Strategic priorities and programmes for the country for 2012- 2015 are:
1. Women's Empowerment Programmes through training and skills development
2. Education Programmes for marginalised children
3. Agriculture and Farming Programmes for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees