The European Union has
replaced the United Nations overseeing Bosnia's civilian police
forces. The changeover occurred Dec. 31.
"For many here, the United Nations flag that has flown over Bosnia
for a decade will forever be stained with the blood of 8,000 Muslims
killed in Europe's worst massacre since World War II," AP notes. Many
also are angered by other UN activities during the war, such as
counting the shells fired at civilians during the siege of Sarajevo
instead of offering protection, and allowing Serb nationalists to cut
off food, medicine, heat, running water, electricity and natural gas
to the city's suffering population.
`"Let them go, and show them the door,'' Sabra Kulenovic, a 53-year
old survivor of the July 1995 Srebrenica slaughter, told AP.
"Timid U.N. functionaries overseeing the peacekeepers caved instead
of trying to secure respect for the international contingent through
force," AP recalls. "Soon, U.N. commanders were begging local
warlords to let their shipments of food pass through. The UN airlift
operation carrying supplies for Serb-besieged Sarajevo was so
unreliable that it was branded `Maybe Airlines.' Hands tied by lack
of resolve at the top, the peacekeepers were reduced to 'monitoring''
how civilian targets were attacked."
Others, though, have "kinder memories" of the UN's efforts after
the war to restructure police and customs in the country, according
to AP. A NATO-led peacekeeping force took over military duties in
Bosnia after the Dayton peace treaty was signed, and still continues
"A statement issued by the United Nations described it as the most
extensive police reform and restructuring mission ever undertaken by
the United Nations," the NY Times reports. "Among the accomplishments
of the mission was the reduction of local forces from 44,000 to about
16,000; the retraining of hundreds of police officers, and a thorough
reform of the border guards."
The EU will have about 500 officers in Bosnia, under a mandate that
runs through 2005, the Times notes. That force is about one-third
smaller than the UN force it replaces.
"The reduction in manpower and spending has been a matter of some
concern in Bosnia," the Times says. "The United Nations employed
about 1,500 local staff, many of whom are likely to be laid off. Some
Bosnians have also expressed concern that the smaller European force
will be capable of fully policing human trafficking and corruption,
which had been major projects under the United Nations."
Amnesty International urged the EU to make investigation of human-
rights abuses a top priority, Reuters reports. "Today, over seven
years after the end of the war, thousands of outstanding human rights
violations remain to be properly investigated, and perpetrators still
enjoy impunity," Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty's European Union
office, said in a statement, according to Reuters.