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Category Archive for 'Bosnia'

Written by Jean-Christophe Rufin, one of the founders of Doctors Without Borders and former president of Action Against Hunger, Checkpoint provides a new look at the whole idea of humanitarian service, in this case during the Bosnian War (1992 – 1995) which followed the breakup of Yugoslavia. The author, both a doctor and writer of popular novels, puts all his talents to use in this novel in which a team of four young people and one middle-aged man joins La Tete d’Or in Lyon, France, to deliver food, clothing, and medical supplies to people stranded without resources in the war zone. Each of the five volunteers has his/her own reason for risking all in the name of humanity, and none of them are acting purely out of altruism as they work their way through Bosnia on their way to Kakanj, a place where the Muslim, Croat, and Serb populations are so integrated that some adjacent areas within the same community have become enemies. As the two-truck convoy heads into the Bosnian war zone, they must pass regularly through checkpoints, operated by local warlords, where “the only true subject, the ultimate motor of all behavior and all thought, was fear. Would make a good film.

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Feeling utterly betrayed by their leaders, twenty-six women from all over Bosnia meet with Swanee Hunt, former US Ambassador to Austria and Chair of Women Waging Peace, a global policy initiative. In their own words, they describe the war which ravaged their country and reduced it to rubble. As they make clear from the outset, this war was not a result of age-old ethnic antagonisms in the Balkans, where city after city had been peacefully multi-ethnic and where most families had loyalties to more than one group. It was the direct result, they believe, of the nationalism fomented by unscrupulous politicians, especially Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic, as they seized power and wealth in the vacuum which existed following the death of Marshall Tito. The twenty-six speakers are Serbs, Croats, Muslims, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, atheists (former Communists), and Jews, all bright, articulate women who are, and have been, working to heal their society.

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