Back to Bosnia

Settlement for returnees

In 1998, GIZ was commissioned to create temporary settlement for refugees returning from Germany to Bosnia.

Fresh start

Project: Repatriation and vocational reintegration of bosnian war refugees
Country: Bosnia
Commissioned by: Town of Düren
Overall term: 1998 to 2003

THEN: In the late 1990s, large numbers of refugees were living in the town of Düren in the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia after fleeing their homes in Bosnia as a result of the war. Many were from Modriča. Once the war was over, they were keen to return home, but Modriča was now in the ­Republika Srpska, where Serbs made up the majority of the population. The municipal ­authorities in Düren therefore commissioned GIZ – at that time, still the Deutsche ­Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH – to create a temporary ­settlement in nearby Gradačac to give the people a new start. The project also ­included support with re-entering the local labour market.
NOW: Around 220 refugees accepted the offer and returned to Bosnia and ­Herzegovina. In the Düren settlement in Gradačac, they moved into 50 small houses. The German town provided an initial grant of DM 1,200, and the government of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia added a further DM 650. The International ­Organization for Migration also supported the project. The German town of Düren funded the set-up of a carpentry workshop, where two returnees and two ­existing inhabitants of Gradačac found work. Other returnees found ­employment in agriculture or with local construction companies. The returnees were able to use the settlement as a base for ­reorientation for five years before making way for further refugees. The initiative spawned a close town partnership between Düren and Gradačac, and there is still a lively exchange programme between schools, women’s groups, and municipal ­councillors and officials.


published in akzente 1/17