The Venice Academy of Human Rights is an international and interdisciplinary programme of excellence for human rights education, research and debate. It provides an enriching forum for emerging ideas, practices...
The refugee repatriated village called Ravno in Kupres is one of the places that were demolished to the grounds during the war in BiH. Only few inhabitants live in extremely harsh conditions, almost unimaginable in the 21st century.
The village Ravno is located on Kupres plateau and spreads on approximately 10 km in length. It is a home to fewer than 50 families of Bosniak and Serbian nationality. That is just a quarter when compared to 200 families living there in 1991. The only income for them is cattle breeding, it’s just about surviving another day, as one of the inhabitants Bajro Kmetaš explains:
” There is just no possibility, none… not even to have a single mark spare. A man can just provide for food and that’s it!”
His neighbor Mustafa Begić continues: ” I can’t say much about a good life here… because the price of a lamb in 2001 and today are the same. Instead of living better, it’s just getting worse and worse.”
They both say that government’s efforts to make the repatriation easier were only coming down to empty words and even that only during the election period. Both neighbors agree they don’t need any stories about tolerance and coexistence, as they live it every day. Economic prosperity is actually their main concern.
Distance from Ravno to Kupres is about 30 km. The same distance is to Tomislavgrad. Bad infrastructure and unpaved roads are the main reasons why there is no movement of people and goods in this area, as Momo Mrčajac, who has been living in this village his whole life, points out: ” Hunters and forest rangers are the most frequent… OK, maybe a mailman or a taxman comes by, but that’s it.”
One of the hardest hurdles for the inhabitants is that there are no grocery stores or an ambulance in the village. There is just one school with 5 grades. It is attended by only 5 pupils. The program is based on Croatian curriculum, the kids are Bosniaks and Serbs and the teacher is a Bosniak also.
As Bajro Kmetaš says, no one minds the curriculum, it is the least of problems. The most important thing is that the children get the education. Illiteracy is the worst thing.
His neighbor, Momo Mrčajac shares the opinion: ” No, no one minds that. We are bothered by the fact that our children are leaving the village after graduating from school, because there is no work here.”
The people in Ravno agree that it is sad that so many years after the war, only a handful of pre- war inhabitants have decided to return to their home. The villagers are forgotten by many, mostly by those who should have ensured means of transport to schools for their children, in their town. The traffic connections to the nearest school centers are very bad and that puts an additional cost to their budgets.
This text was written as a part of Divided Past – Joint Future project and it does not represent nor reflects attitudes and viewpoints of the European Union, its institutions and bodies. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the text lies entirely with the author.