"The challenge in Srebrenica goes far beyond the elections," said Valentin Inzko,
an Austrian diplomat who has pressed local officials to take more
responsibility since becoming high representative in 2009. "People want a
better life, and the key to that is constructive politics and economic
Under the exemption, Muslims have controlled the municipal government, interned the bodies of 5,137 of the victims in a sprawling memorial here
and tried to reverse some of the impact of the killings by slowly
moving back. Today Srebrenica's population, which was 75 percent Muslim
before the war, is evenly split between Serbs and Muslims.
And that is where the good news ends. Already a glaring symbol of
international fecklessness, the town's sorry state today sets a new
standard for Western half-measures gone astonishingly wrong.
The 17-year effort to move Muslims back to this town began with a
whimper. Clinton administration officials, eager to avoid American
casualties, made little effort in the late 1990s to arrest the Serb
nationalists who carried out the executions. Fears of violent clashes
blocked large-scale efforts to return Muslims to Srebrenica.
Frustrated, the roughly 30,000 Muslims who had survived the town's fall scattered
across Bosnia and the world. Roughly 20,000 resettled in
Muslim-controlled parts of Bosnia. An additional 15,000 fled abroad; an
estimated 7,000 arrived in the United States.
Many of them eventually settled in St. Louis, Missouri, a city with a
Bosnian community already 80,000 strong, the largest in the United
States. Today, roughly 5,000 refugees from Srebrenica live in St. Louis.
The Midwestern American city is home to more Bosnian Muslim survivors
of the massacre than Srebrenica itself.
One of the Srebrenica refugees who arrived in the U. S. was Camil
Durakovic, the town's current Muslim mayor. After he survived the fall
of Srebrenica at the age of 16, his family resettled in
Manchester, New Hampshire. After attending a local high school, he
graduated from Notre Dame in 2003 and planned to attend graduate school
in the U.S.
A 2005 summer trip to Srebrenica convinced him that his home was
here. He started working for the town's mayor. When the mayor passed
away earlier this year, Durakovic, a burly man with a boyish face who
wore a pin-striped suit and pink shirt in the town hall today, took
In an interview in his office on Thursday, he said returns of Muslim
families rose from 2002 to 2005, largely as a result of heavy American
and European support. In recent years, though, they have slowed. The
economy has not helped. Unemployment is 50 percent in Srebrenica, making
it a difficult place to settle for Muslims and Serbs alike. Today,
3,500 Bosnian Muslims live in Srebrenica. Because Serb officials decline
to pay their pensions and other government benefits, many Bosnian
Muslims maintain their official addresses in Muslim-controlled parts of