Peacebuilding at the Local Level: Refugee Return to Prijedor'

Roberto Belloni

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    22 Citations (Scopus)


    During the 1992-95 war, Prijedor was synonymous with mass killing, ethnic cleansing and detention camps. A decade after the end of the war, international agencies consider this town to be an example of successful foreign intervention. Thousands of Muslim displaced persons (DPs) returned to their pre-war homes, mosques have been rebuilt, and hard-line Serb nationalists have lost much influence. How could Prijedor turn from a hopeless case of ethnic violence to an example of successful intervention? This essay argues that Prijedor's (relative) success is due more to the determination of Muslim DPs than to the international peacebuilding strategy. The initial post-Dayton international intervention exacerbated the problem of internal displacement, raised ethnic tensions and left Prijedor in the hands of the same indicted war criminals responsible for the war. Against the advice of international agencies, which feared a backlash among the Bosnian Serbs, in 1998 Muslim DPs began returning home. Eventually, large-scale return improved ethnic relations and helped marginalize Bosnian Serb extremists. The essay concludes by highlighting the lessons from Prijedor, and identifies the domestic and international contribution to Prijedor's post-settlement success.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)434-447
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Peacekeeping
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

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