Survivor of Bosnian conflict visits Derry for peace building

Elvira Mujkanovic visited he city today for a series of events to promote positive dialogue and peace building.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 5:17 pm
Elvira Mujkanovic from Remembering Srebrenica. Picture Martin McKeown.

Bosnian Serb forces attacked her home in the town of Trnopolje when she was just 18 years old and witnessed a host of atrocities before she managed to escape with her mother to a refugee camp in Croatia. She was evacuated by the Red Cross and she now lives in Scotland with her husband.

Elvria was invited to Derry after the Council pledged its support to the Remembering Srebrenica organisation in July which aims to understand and commemorate the Srebrenica genocide and the Balkan conflict of the early 1990s. The council have been working with the Remembering Srebrenica’s Regional Board NI to arrange the visit as well an online discussion on the Bosnian War, the Troubles here in the north and the common issues with both events.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mayor Warke said it provided an opportunity to share experiences and explore new ways of promoting peace between divided communities. “While we have come a long way in our own journey towards peace, we are still working to overcome challenges and we can learn a lot from other societies similarly emerging from conflict situations.

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“Local groups had the opportunity to explore issues such as polarisation and discrimination, which sadly continue to be prevalent in our own communities. It was very useful to gauge new perspectives on these issues and I hope this will feed into shaping our approaches going forwards.”

Elvira Mujkanovic said, “I was thrilled to see how beautiful this city is and how well people from different backgrounds are representing their history, culture and rights while working and collaborating together. The lesson from Bosnia, where we have experienced so much trouble and trauma through religious and identity prejudices, is that dialogue and respect are critical to moving forward constructively.

“Diversity is good. I am proud of how diverse Bosnia is. It is something to celebrate and protect. Bosnia and this region have so much in common. I hope we can continue to learn from each other and support each other in what will inevitable be difficult days still to come as we continue the toughest battle of all – to build and sustain peace while cherishing our diversity.”