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Srebrenica

Srebrenica is a town in the east of Bosnia Herzegovina.

Following the breakup of Yugoslavia and the resulting civil war, it was declared to be a 'safe area' by the United Nations. However, in July 1995 Bosnian Serb forces entered the town and allegedely massacred over 7000 Muslim men of fighting age, evacuating the women and children by buses to Muslim-controlled territory. To this day, 2003, only some 70 found bodies were identified as Muslims in a region that was plagued by ethnic conflict, included numerous massacres of Serb villagers (some say as many as 2,000) by the enclave's Muslim forces under Naser Oric.

Dutch troops were assigned to safeguard civilians in Srebrenica but they were powerless since they had gotten involved in the local quagmire. The deal was initially for the Muslim forces to disarm and give up their strategic positions to the UN peacekeepers in exchange for the area to be proclaimed a safe zone which would entail NATO bombing Serb positions if they were to cross into Srebrenica. Instead, the Muslims chose to keep their weapons in a deal with the Dutch who were to guard the positions. This infuriated the Serbs as the Muslims used this to their advantage, setting out in raids against surrounding Serb villages in which none were spared, including women and children (such as in the village of Kravica on January 7th, Orthodox Christmas day, 1993). The Muslim forces would then retreat into the UN Safe Zone leaving the Serbs powerless to pursue the offenders and defenceless at the hands of these men.

After a long-running discussion about the event in the Netherlands, the Dutch second cabinet of Wim Kok chose to resign in April 2002 after the official inquiry and report by the NIOD.

see also Balkans



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