Experiences in Disaster Management

I have not had hands on experience in a disaster situation but I was fortunate to be part of a Human Rights Delegation this summer in Bosnia I Herzegovina. I was able to work with a number of organizations that are assisting the country in redevelopment in a area that has been devastated by mortars/landmines, where genocide has occurred and that still has issues that need to be resolved before the country can recover completely. It was fascinating to see how the Center for Missing Persons works to identify the bodies that have been unearthed from mass graves and to see some of the bodies and learn how they were killed through markings that were on their remains. I also got to be part of the annual memorial in Srebrenica where they bury the bodies that are found each year from the mass genocide of over 8,000 Bosniaks that occurred there in July of 1995.

It was interesting to hear about the United Nations influence in the area and how sometimes people that are there to help can do more harm than good. In the case of Bosnia these aid organizations created a false sense of security and in the end many people seeking refugee ended up murdered or in concentration camps.

In many circumstances, the people that had horrible things happen to them and their families just wanted to tell their story. They wanted people to know what they endured and needed someone to listen. I was there for two months listing to people and learning more about the recovery process after a man-made disaster in a post conflict country. The many organizations that were created to assist the people within the region to continue their lives and move forward. Their is a large economic need and precautions have to be made since there are a large number of landmines still in the region.

What I have learned in these disaster management courses I have been taking this past year has helped me better understand the processes that I got to be part of while I was there in Bosnia i Herzegovina this past summer.

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