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news 19 Sep 14

US Officials Slate Bosnian Politicians Over Floods

Two top US officials in Bosnia have torn strips off Bosnia's political class, saying they did little or nothing to help victims of the May floods.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Bosnian politicians have shown they are completely incapable of helping citizens in times of need and of matching even half of what the international community did for flood victims, two senior US officials wrote in their embassy blog on September 18.

David Barth, mission director of USAID in Bosnia, and Scott Miller, the US Defense Attaché, wrote that during and after the May floods, which destroyed thousands of homes, they witnessed the failure of Bosnian governments at all levels to serve the needs of the country's citizens.

“Four months after the initial floods, politicians throughout BiH have no real plans, or even serious ideas, to offer for recovery,” the two wrote. “Flood victims have seen little to nothing except for empty promises and excuses from their leaders.

“These same leaders instead quickly apply international assistance to fill their coffers to cover existing budget shortfalls that are the result of their policies, with little directed for flood response,” they added.

Barth and Miller recalled that Bosnia received pledges of over 800 million euro at the donors conference held in July. More than 100 million euro from the international community has already been spent.

“Every student in the flood affected areas will be able to return to school this month. This is because the European Union and United Nations have moved quickly to repair schools,” the two said.

“Thousands of businesses and farms will be able to return to productive work. This is because USAID, the Swedish government, the Norwegian government, and others moved quickly to restart businesses,” they added.

“But what have BiH’s own government bodies done?”

The two praised the work of the armed forces and civil protection personnel, volunteers, rafting clubs, local groups, diaspora, and some municipal leaders.

“They all reached out to help one another regardless of ethnic background, religion, or political party,” they wrote.

“Unfortunately, these efforts were dismissed by politicians who have built their personal empires on the constant narrative of ethnic disharmony and dysfunction, past grievances, and victimization,” they continued.

“Citizens of this country... know their politicians are using fear and insecurity to avoid transparency and accountability. This is hardly the recipe for the prosperous and successful future the children of BiH deserve,” the bloggers said.

“October’s elections are the time for all citizens to be heard and to choose the course for their future,” they concluded.

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