By Sead OMERAGIC
There was this French UN soldier who, while transporting me across the airport runway to Hrasnica in January 1993, told me of his obsession with Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was counting all the mountains and towns that he had visited. Then he suddenly lowered down his voice and said: 'You don't deserve this beauty! Some other people will be living here and they will be happy'. He did not tell how that was going to come about, but he did tell me what the end of the movie was going to look like.
In Croatia, there are 4 million people less than was the case before. A total of 165,000 citizens left Croatia from 2011 to 2014 and continued to desert this country with the same intensity in the years that follow. Only in 2015, 65,000 Croatia's citizens left their homeland. 35 – 40,000 persons of those are youngsters, while 22,000 of the said total are university graduates, warned Dr. Stjepan Sterc, a professor at Zagreb University. The data revealed my media are catastrophic – they speak of 82,000 citizens who left in 2016. 54,000 of those immigrated to Germany.
Should these trends continue, by 2031 population of Croatia will drop down to 2.9 million, which is only a decade from now. And it will be getting worse. Number of births, according to Sterc, will reduce to 30,000 per year in the next 5 years, and in the next 10 years, it will drop to 20,000 births per year. At the same time, number of deaths will get near 60,000 per year, therefore, Croatia will losing by this spontaneous process of emigration about 40,000 persons per year.
Croatia has 130,000 citizens less than in 2011 merely on the point of rise of mortality rates vis a vis those of natality.
It is even worse in Serbia. Every year this country loses a town of 39,000 citizens to 'natural cause'. And that figure is likely to grow. Since the last census (7 + years ago), Serbia has lost 310,000 of its citizens. Their media, however, keep silent about emigrations of their population. The numbers whispered in one's ear are somewhat lower than Croatia's.
Nobody knows how many people left BiH. The estimate of 14,000 per year is overly optimistic.
The Republika Srpska has seen an increase of negative trend, which means that it loses 5,000 citizens at average to 'natural causes'. Federation BiH has also seen a negative trends as each year it loses 2,000 citizens at average. Therefore, BiH as a whole is deprived of app. 7,000 citizens each year. Last year the total was 7,779 persons. If we add to this the difference between natality and mortality, it turns out that we lose 22,000 citizens per annum. It is a tragic fact considering our losses during the bloody war from 92 – 95.
The situation is quite serious. We finally have something in common – we are disappearing from this region altogether. And our destinies continued to be tailored by the people who actually work on our emigration by spreading fear, threats and helplessness, thus increasing pressure on ordinary people.
When Slobodan Milosevic returned from Dayton after signing the Dayton Agreement, on the 6th of December 1995 he boasted before the Supreme Council of Defense: 'We have got a half of Bosnia! A republic! They (Bosnian Serbs) will get all towns along the river Sava, three towns in inner Bosnian and the entire Podrinje with an exception of Gorazde. It is 50 towns and 25,000 kilometers. Our task is to return all refugees who are currently in Serbia so as to fill up these territories', said Milosevic triumphantly.
Those who passed through Podrinje, along Sava River in the past years, could have seen only ruins and desolate lands, free even of stray dogs and wild beasts who had torn apart dead bodies of those killed in the houses. Local hunters shoot but they rarely eat those wild beasts. Those who live by Drina and Sava rivers do not fish for all those dead bodies that drowned down to the river bottom. The life expectancy of river fish is 30 years.
If you pass through Podrinje and especially Posavina, take a good long look around the villages and small towns and you will see 'for sale' on 3 of 4 houses. I'm not sure if anybody buys those houses but people continue to disappear for good.
Serbia and Croatia had started bloody wars aimed at enlarging their territories and states, but what they got in return are ever smaller nations. A few nights ago, on the social networks I got to talk and exchange opinions with some folks, including those from the neighboring countries. They all said that babies made them smile.
Shouldn't this disappearing and dying away be replaced with hope and new life?
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