Displaced Bosnians blame politicians for their plight ahead of polls

MIHATOVICI, Bosnia, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Edis Haskic has been living in a reception center since 1995, when Bosnian Serb forces killed his father and 8,000 other Muslim Bosniak men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two.

He shares the destiny of more than 7,000 people from across Bosnia's ethnic divide, still displaced from the 1992-95 war and residing in 120 such shelters.

Their fate is not high on the agenda of Bosnian politicians whose campaigning for Oct. 7 general elections is characterized by ethnically divisive rhetoric and opposing views of Bosnia's future - the very issues at the core of the war in which 100,000 people were killed and two million driven from their homes.

Waiting for the state to assign him a new home, Haskic, 33, got married in the northern village of Mihatovici and is now trying to raise his own children with monthly state aid of 60 euros. He is forced to seek daily jobs to help make ends meet.

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Displaced Bosnians blame politicians for their plight
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Displaced Bosnians blame politicians for their plight

Bosnian Serb Sofija Vidovic, an internally displaced person from Zenica, sits in her room at a reception center where IDPs live, in Kladari Donji, near Modrica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 1, 2018. "I can't drink it (coffee) without sugar, it's bitter. I have enough bitter life, at least coffee does not have to be. This place is terrible for life. We do not even have toilets. I wish I had a nice place to live in to invite guests," Vidovic said. "I stopped believing in promises that they will move us to new homes. For years, they've been telling us that."

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

A combination picture shows an entrance to Croat side of an ethnically divided school (top) and entrance to the Bosniak side of the same school in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 29, 2018. Muslim Bosniak children and Roman Catholic Croats attend the same schools but still learn from different curricula - a practice devised as an interim solution after the war that has persisted despite a top court ruling it as discriminatory. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Food is distributed to the internally displaced people at a reception center where IDPs live, in Mihatovici, near Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 2, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosnian Serb Nedjeljko Matic, an internally displaced person from Donji Vakuf, poses for a photograph in front of his house at a reception center where IDPs live, in Bratunac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 28, 2018. "My wife and my mother have died here in the camp. I only live with my son now," Matic said. "Politicians are only promising but no one has ever done anything for us." 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

An ironworks factory that shut down during the Bosnian War, is seen in Vares, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 28, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosnian Croat Bernarda Turbic, an internally displaced person, poses for a photograph at a reception center Tasovcici where IDPs live, near Capljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Interior of a battery factory that shut down during the Bosnian War, is seen in Potocari, near Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 28, 2018.

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

An entrance to the Bosniak side of an ethnically divided school is seen in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 29, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Electrical socket is seen in a room of Bosnian Serb Rasko Kovacevic, an internally displaced person from Gracanica, in Kladari Donji near Modrica, October 1, 2018. "The politicians are guilty for everything. They are the ones who divide us. I am not interested in either the Republika Srpska or the Federation of BiH, only Bosnia and Herzegovina is interesting to me. We can not have a state in the state. We are all the same and it is equally difficult for all of us," Kovacevic said. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

An internally displaced person sits outside a house at a reception center where IDPs live, in Bratunac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 28, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

A makeshift toilette stands at a reception center where IDPs live, in Bratunac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 28, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

A poster of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is seen inside the room of an internally displaced Bosnian Serb Zorica Tomic at a reception center Kladari Donji where IDPs live, near Modrica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 1, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosnian Serb Teso Kuzmanovic, an internally displaced person from Gracanica, sits inside his home at a reception center Kladari Donji where IDPs live, near Modrica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 1, 2018. "It is hard when you live alone. I hardly survive from month to month. Monthly welfare benefit is 60 euros and I spend all the money on food and medicine. There is no life here," Kuzmanovic said. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

An ethnically divided school stands in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 29, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

An entrance to the Croat side of an ethnically divided school is seen in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 29, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Internally displaced people are seen at a reception center Kladari Donji where IDPs live, near Modrica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 1, 2018.

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

A building that houses a reception center where IDPs live (bottom floor) and a school (top floor) stands in Kladari Donji, near Modrica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 1, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosnian Serb Rasko Kovacevic, an internally displaced person from Gracanica, sits in his room at a reception center Kladari Donji where IDPs live, near Modrica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 1, 2018. "The politicians are guilty for everything. They are the ones who divide us. I am not interested in either the Republika Srpska or the Federation of BiH, only Bosnia and Herzegovina is interesting to me. We can not have a state in the state. We are all the same and it is equally difficult for all of us," Kovacevic said. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosniak Abida Avdic, an internally displaced person from Srebrenica, cries at her house in Mihatovici, near Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 2, 2018. "I came from Srebrenica. I had a son. He died in the war. Now I'm alone, I don't have anyone. Nobody's visiting me," Avdic said. "I don't have any photos or memories from before, everything was left in Srebrenica and destroyed." 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosnian Croat Alojz Stjepic, an internally displaced person from Kiseljak, walks inside his house at a reception center Tasovcici where IDPs live, near Capljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 27, 2018. "I haven't felt good for the last 24 years," Stjepic said. "I'm disabled since 2004 and I don't know if I would have survived if I didn't have a welfare benefit." 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosniak Edis Haskic (2nd L), 33, an internally displaced person from Srebrenica, speaks with his friends at a reception camp where IDPs live, in Mihatovici near Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 25, 2018. "Politicians are guilty for this situation, because apart from free meals, no other chance or help was given to me," Haskic said.

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosniak Behka Ibisevic, an internally displaced person from Srebrenica, walks through a reception center where IDPs live, in Mihatovici, near Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 2, 2018. "I left Srebrenica in 1995. My husband died in the war. I've buried a total of 50 family members. I wonder how I survived all this," Ibisevic said.

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Soko, an aircraft manufacturing factory that shut down during the Bosnian War, is seen in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

A table stands inside the house of Teso Kuzmanovic, an internally displaced person from Gracanica, at a reception center Kladari Donji where IDPs live, near Modrica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 1, 2018. "It is hard when you live alone. I hardly survive from month to month. Monthly welfare benefit is 60 euros and I spend all the money on food and medicine. There is no life here," Kuzmanovic said. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

A sign of a minefield is seen in Zeleni Jadar near Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 28, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosnian Serb Zorica Tomic (R), an internally displaced person, walks in front of a reception center Kladari Donji where IDPs live, near Modrica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 1, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

An internally displaced person works at a reception center where IDPs live, in the village of Tasovcici near Capljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

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"Politicians are guilty for this situation because, apart from free meals, no other chance or help was given to me," he said, adding he has lost hope of ever returning to Srebrenica.

The 1995 Dayton peace deal ended the war by splitting Bosnia into two distinct regions - the Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation - but ethnic tensions remain high, blocking progress towards membership of NATO and the European Union.

Muslim Bosniak children and Roman Catholic Croats attend the same schools but still learn from different curricula - a practice devised as an interim solution after the war that has persisted despite a top court ruling it as discriminatory.

"The politicians are guilty for everything. They are the ones who divide us," said Rasko Kovacevic, a Serb from a camp in the northern village of Kladari Donji, where life is far from easy.

Most families have only one room in which they sleep, prepare meals and even take baths. Many can use only makeshift wooden toilets shared by a dozen of people.

"They (politicians) only visit us before the elections when they need a vote but when I'm looking for a job, they just tap me on my shoulder," said Branko Mlikota, who lives in the Croat center outside the southern town of Capljina for 24 years.

After many delays, the government has set a 2020 deadline for the closure of these centers. "They just promise but nobody has ever done anything for us," one refugee said.

Bosnians vote for a new presidency, national and regional parliaments on Oct. 7 in elections dominated by public frustration with the failure of authorities to tackle rampant corruption and sky-high unemployment.

(Writing by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Gareth Jones)

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