High Representative Valentin Inzko says it is shameful, 17 years after the signing of the Dayton peace deal, that so many people have never been able to return to their own homes.
Speaking at a round table on sustainable returns in the European Academy in Banja Luka, Inzko said that “more than shelter is needed for the re-integration” of those who were forced to leave their homes in the 1992-5 conflict.
“The extent to which citizens are able to honour loved ones who were killed during the war is a measure of how willing communities and individuals are to accept returnees and show understanding for their loss,” Inzko said.
The High Representative called on Bosnia's authorities to redouble their efforts to ensure the full implementation of the returnee strategy.
“The right to return is a legal right in Bosnia and Herzegovina, yet a hundred thousand Bosnian citizens are still displaced and thousands live in collective accommodation," he noted.
"This is unacceptable and ought to be rectified over 17 years after the [Dayton Ohio] Peace Agreement was signed,” added Inzko.
According to the UN's refugee wing, UNHCR, there are still tens of thousands of refugees in Bosnia.
Turning to the issue of the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, the High Representative criticised Milorad Dodik, President of the Republika Srpska, for denying that the crime commited in the town constituted an act of genocide. Such remarks were “unworthy of the citizens of the RS”, Inzko said.
After Serbia's newly elected president, Tomislav Nikolic, recently said that no genocide had occurred in Srebrenica, Dodik told a Serbian journalist on Monday that he “agrees with Nikolic regarding Srebrenica”.
The Office of the High Representative, OHR, is the international institution responsible for overseeing implementation of civilian aspects of the 1995 Peace Agreement ending the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.