Muslim Aid Media Centre

Former Bosnian soldiers struggling for civil support system: Muslim Aid helps a disabled war veteran

Bosnia and Herzegovina was once part of former republic of Yugoslavia with a multiethnic population comprising Bosniaks (a term used for Muslims), Serbs and Croats. According to the 1991 census, 43.7% of the Bosnian population were Muslims followed by 31.4% Serbs and 17.3% Croats. The ethnically rooted Bosnian war came to an end with a cease-fire in 1995 with active support provided by UN Security Council members and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

The Bosnian war killed thousands of civilian people and made millions refugees. Bosnia witnessed one of the worst atrocities that took place in Europe after the Second World War. The conflict between the Muslim, Serbs and Croat communities created horrific episodes of ethnic cleansing, mass graves and concentration camps in which overwhelming majority of victims were Muslims. The Bosnians are still psychologically traumatized from the terror they have survived. Especially those, who were drawn into fighting the war, are still experiencing difficulties to adapt to normal lives. The war veterans are still suffering from serious depression due to lack of support from their communities which used to cherish during the war time.

Hundreds of demobilised former soldiers are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder which diminishes short term memory capacity and affects verbal intellectual capability. Samir Zahirovic aged 33 years is one of the old war veterans living with several fractures in his body and severe medical conditions. He joined army at the age of 14 years as an orphan and was seriously wounded during the Bosnian war 1992-95. He spent three years on the wheelchair and was able to walk after several operations. He has an artificial hip and a left arm with no elbow or muscle. Recently, he has been diagnosed with tumour on pancreases, large intestine and lungs. He has gone through 4 surgeries and is now undergoing chemotherapy. He lives with his wife and three children on the 5th floor and rarely come out of his apartment because he can only walk with the help of a crutch. On the request of Samir, Muslim Aid has constructed a house for him and his family. Samir will move in the new house by April 2014.

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