Mock funeral held for Bosnian town

2013-03-04 21:05
(Picture: <a href=\\>Shutterstock</a>)

(Picture: Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Drvar - If a town is dying, doesn't it at least deserve a decent funeral?

With candles, speeches and an obituary poster reading "Town of Drvar 1883 - 2013," residents symbolically laid this west Bosnian town to rest on Monday.

Two months ago, the last company in Drvar closed down, sending the town's unemployment rate skyrocketing to 80% - double Bosnia's average.

What Bosnia's 1992 to 1995 war has not destroyed in Drvar, the global financial crisis and the Balkan nation's interethnic bickering seems to be finishing off.

"With the last 300 people being laid off, Drvar's backbone has been broken. This symbolic funeral should serve as an eye-opener for the regional authorities," said union official Mico Rakic. "They must see that these people have nothing to eat."

This neglected town had 17 000 residents before the war, including metal, wood and textile industries that employed over 6 000 workers.

During the war, the mainly Bosnian Serb population fled when the town fell to the Bosnian Croat army.

A peace agreement divided the country in two ethnic-based regions, one run by Bosnian Serbs, the other shared by Muslim Bosniaks and Croats.

Drvar ended up in the half run by the Bosniaks and Croats - and many residents see this as a reason for the town's neglected status.

About 5 000 Serbs have slowly returned to their devastated houses only to see their hometown withering for over two decades.

Last year, deaths in Drvar outnumbered births 119 to 27.

The carpet factory and the paper factory have never been rebuilt; their machines cut up and sold as scrap.

Other companies were sold by regional authorities to buyers from Croatia who, according to the residents, sold off whatever remained from the plants, laid off all the workers and left millions in tax and utility debts.

"The last one owes the laid-off 300 workers months of salaries," Rakic added. "People are living off donations that their parents give them from their retirements."

With the average monthly retirement payment amounting to $208, that help doesn't add up to much.

Rising unemployment

During the last year, Bosnia's ranks of unemployed grew by another 96 000, bringing the country's unemployment rate to over 44% in February.

Even those Bosnians who have a job can cover less than half of their essential living costs with their salaries, according to the government statistic agency.

And a recent UN survey found that three out of four young people in Bosnia don't have a job and over a half of them would leave the country for good if given the chance.

"Oh mother, why did you not give birth to me in Austria?" is a popular lament.

In Drvar, some 200 people came to the mock funeral, lighting a candle in the local Serbian Orthodox church for the soul of their hometown.

Among them was Vesna Ulaga, 45, unemployed since 1992.

Her husband occasionally helps people cut firewood.

Their 6-year-old daughter Angela has not tasted milk for the past six months, she said, and the family is waiting for their electricity and water to be cut off shortly because of unpaid bills.

Ulaga listened to the speeches and applauded when one speaker said "dignity is all we have left”.

Drvar's mayor, Stevica Lukac, appeared at the symbolic funeral but urged the crowd not to lose hope.

Ulaga turned her back to him, a tear rolling down her cheek.

"I don't have the strength any more. I'm finished too," she whispered.

- AP
Read more on:    bosnia

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


“To infinity and beyond”….. As the Sun and the Moon move into Sagittarius you are able to let go of the emotional intensity of more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.