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Bosnia’s Veterans and Victims Fight for Compensation

War veterans block roads to demand higher benefits from a state that claims it can’t afford it.

5 March 2018

Bosnian veterans of the 1992-1995 war demanding higher benefits ramped up their protests over the weekend.


The protests started on Wednesday last week in the Bosniak-Croat entity. On Saturday, several people were injured and briefly detained when police dismantled a roadblock near the city of Tuzla, RFE/RL reports.


Police officer asking veterans to clear the road, 28 February. Screenshot via Dnevni Avaz/Youtube.


The veterans of Bosniak and Croat wartime forces are demanding 326 Bosnian marks ($206) per month in benefits for unemployed war veterans, and two or three marks on top of that for every month of wartime service, Balkan Insight says.


The protesters also call for a unified register of veterans, to prevent people from falsely declaring themselves veterans in order to obtain benefits.


They are also calling on the government to cut funding to the 1,600 existing war veterans associations, which they say hand out benefits in an unequal fashion. They want the government to pay individual veterans directly, RFE/RL writes.


Government officials said budget restraints make it impossible to meet the demands, according to Reuters.


Not only war veterans say the government has not heeded their claims for benefits. Thousands of civilian victims, who filed lawsuits to claim compensation for being tortured or raped during the war, saw their claims rejected. Many of them were then hit with court fines they could not afford to pay, Reuters reported in a separate article.


The problem, according to Reuters, is caused by the absence of a nationwide law covering the victims of torture, rape and other war atrocities. This results in different treatment of reparation claims in Bosnia’s Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation.


Deputies of the Serb region’s legislature have blocked legislation to create a nationwide system, maintaining that reparation claims should be under regional instead of national jurisdiction, Reuters says.



  • Popular demands for more state support are no rarity in the chronically underfunded country. In October 2017, thousands protested in Sarajevo to demand higher pensions and better social and health care.


  • More than 100,000 people died during the war and a much larger number fled the country. Serb forces successfully carved out an entity cleansed of most Muslim Bosniaks; Croats failed to do the same in western Bosnia.

Compiled by Wasse Jonkhans

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