No return of Croats to Doboj area

NEWS 14.06.2018 21:59
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Source: N1

Thousands of Bosnian Croats were expelled during the war from the northern Bosnia and only dozens have returned 23 years later. Hundreds still visit their prewar homes in the Doboj and Derventa area on religious and other holidays.

Every June 13, Catholics from the area of Doboj and Derventa visit the Antun Padovinski Church. Among them are also some returnees, but only about a dozen.

“There were more than 300 houses in the village of Veliki Prnjavor. Not any more,” returnee Grgo Bratanic told N1.

“People hardly come back, as neither is it in the state's interest to support them in doing so, nor do they want to go back,” he said and explained that a lot of people prefer the cities over the village, as living in the village is a lot of work.

“People had homes but those are destroyed. People applied for reconstruction 10 or 15 times but they neither got anything from Croatia or from the Office for Croats outside the country,” the head of the local community in Veliki Prnjavor, Slavko Gavran, complained.

No help came from Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor from its Republika Srpska (RS) semi-autonomous entity. Locals say the only help they ever received came from the mayor of Doboj, but that is not enough to attract the Croats who left this area to come back.

“My father, mother, grandfather and grandmother were born here and I come here whenever I can. I don't see a reason for living here. There is no store, no doctor, nothing,” one of the those who left, Alena Alacic, said.

But what if the roads, schools and hospitals would be built?

Petar Aracic said he would “stay right away”.

Among those living there part time is Mira Blatancic.

“I worked and lived here with my husband. I gave birth to five children during the war and we left for Slavonski Brod,” she said.

The family rebuilt their house after the war and they visit it whenever they have time.

“We are here every weekend,” Blatancic said.

According to statistics, most of the people who left Bosnia between the 1991 and the 2013 censuses are Croats. More than 760,000 Croats lived in the country in 1991. In 2013 that number came down to 550,000.