UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2006 / 20060331

Era of Relief Ends in Bosnia and Herzegovina

NEW YORK, NY, March 31, 2006-The era of United Methodist relief in Bosnia and Herzegovina has ended and the era of self-sufficiency has begun as United Methodist Committee on Relief withdraws after a 13-year project. UMCOR is a unit of the church's global mission agency.

Some 100,000 people benefited from UMCOR's presence in country. Programs costing $133 million-funded by the church and government donors-affected life there from main streets to individual households. "The closing of the Bosnia and Herzegovina office marks the end of an era in UMCOR's history," said the Rev. Paul Dirdak, UMCOR's Deputy General Secretary. "It was one of UMCOR's earliest field offices and set the standard for our continuing excellence in transitional development."

Notable were installation of lighting and apartment buildings along Mostar's main road in the south, once the front line in the deadly war among Serbs, Muslims, and Croats; returning thousands to their home villages and new housing across the country after displacement; construction of a footbridge in Mostar to reconnect halves of the city on either side of the Neretva River; and development of economic opportunity for vulnerable households. In all UMCOR staff designed and managed 140 different programs.

"The country is completely different today from that encountered by UMCOR staff members in 1993 during a time of war and suffering," wrote John Farquharson, the head of mission who oversaw the close out. He has served with UMCOR for five years. "It seems fair to say that the development in the quality of projects and the capacity of the program was exponential," he said in an email. "This was the result of an unquantifiable amount of human effort by many staff."

Continuing in mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the youth houses that play a role in continuing peace building and reconciliation among people still in uneasy proximity. Gifts to support the youth houses, UMCOR Advance #333640, may be mailed to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Donors wishing to use a major credit card may call toll free, 800-554-8583, or donate online.