A Catholic bishop from Bosnia and Herzegovina has protested that neither the Bosnian government nor the international community is doing anything to enable Catholic Croat refugees to return to their homes some thirteen years after the end of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia.
Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka recently visited the headquarters of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Germany. He said he and his priests had expected that the government and the international community would take steps to restore damaged infrastructure, but he fears the government does not seem to regard itself as responsible for the Catholics.
In the bishop’s view, the government appears to take the position that Catholics are the concern of the bishop, though Bishop Komarica pointed out that it is not the task of the Church to build homes, provide running water and repair roads.
According to the bishop, perhaps two percent of the Catholics who fled the area have returned. He added there was no discernable political will to implement the public declarations that Catholic Croats could return to their homes.
“Our appeals, pleas and protests have gone unheard", said Bishop Komarica. "Justice in this case is being trampled underfoot! Why do human rights apply in Germany, France and the USA, for example, but not to us in Bosnia?"
The bishop explained that the Catholic Church wishes to make a “fruitful contribution to the future of this country,” but he added: “in order to do so we must first be able to live here.”
Bishop Komarica told ACN that he will not tire of speaking out for all those disenfranchised.
The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina raged from 1992 to 1995 following the collapse of Yugoslavia. More than 243,000 people died in the conflict and two million were driven from their homes.