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December 27, 2016

JICA Support for Ethnic Harmony in Bosnia and Herzegovina Ongoing 20 Years After Diplomatic Ties Established

photoA kindergarten near the border. Children whose ethnic groups were in opposition during the conflict now draw together happily
photoStudents of different ethnicities work together to create a website
photoThe Neretva. In Mostar, different ethnic groups live separately on the two sides of the river

Bosnia and Herzegovina is made up of three main ethnic groups — Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. In 1992 hostility erupted among these groups surrounding the issue of independence. In a conflict lasting over 3.5 years, 200,000 people died and 2 million became refugees or internally displaced persons.

In December 1995, a peace agreement ended the conflict. With the support of the international community, Bosnia and Herzegovina is making progress toward recovering from war damage and ethnic groups are reconciling.

Japan and Bosnia and Herzegovina established diplomatic relations the year after the peace agreement, so this year marks the 20th anniversary of those ties. JICA is carrying out various cooperation projects related to ethnic harmony in the country.
Conventionally, education in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been carried out with a separate curriculum for each of the three main ethnic groups. However, in the field of IT education, in which JICA has been providing assistance for more than 10 years, educational integration among the different ethnic groups is being realized.

Because IT is a new technological field, history and culture have little effect on it and students from the three ethnic groups can learn together in a single classroom.
JICA is supporting the standardization of IT education at high schools. This effort started with a project begun in 2006 targeting high school in the city of Mostar, which was the scene of fierce fighting, and it has expanded to high schools throughout the country.
In physical education, on the other hand, efforts toward a common curriculum among ethnic groups are lagging behind and support is urgently needed.
JICA began a project to build trust through sports in Mostar beginning in November. By creating a common curriculum in health and physical education to introduce into elementary schools nationwide, JICA is helping promote a feeling of national unity and mutual understanding between ethnic groups.
JICA began cooperation in 2006 in the city of Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, to build trust among ethnic groups and to promote residents' economic independence. Many people in Srebrenica lost their livelihoods in the conflict and strongly desire to restore the pre-conflict economic foundation, which was centered on agriculture.

Additionally JICA is helping to build trust between ethnic groups by expanding joint planning by residents to develop agriculture and agricultural communities. Current activities to develop agriculture cover the entire city, and as multiethnic groups independently implement collaborative activities, ethnic harmony is advancing.

These initiatives — which treat the three ethnic groups equally and are devised with the needs of residents in mind — have been well-received, including being recognized with an award from the city of Srebrenica in 2012.


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