AboutIn July 1995, just months before the Dayton Agreement ended the Bosnian War, the safe haven enclave of Srebrenica fell to Ratko Mladic and his forces. In the ensuing terror and confusion, between 12,000 and 13,000 men and boys tried to escape over mountainous terrain to free territory near Tuzla. Those unable to walk the 120km to safety followed their families to the battery factory at Potocari, seeking refuge at the garrison headquarters of the Dutch Battalion assigned by the UN to protect the enclave. As Srebrenica fell, Muslim men and boys as young as 12 were rounded up and held at various locations before being executed. The women and younger children were deported by bus to the UN Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) campsites at Tuzla Airport. Over a period of a few days, around 8,000 Muslim males (and some women) were slaughtered in the largest genocide since WWII and Srebrenica lost its biggest ethnic group of inhabitants.
Rebuilding after the war is a slow process. Some Muslim families have returned, many choose to stay away. Ethnic tensions in the community are close to the surface and there is an uneasy truce between Serb and Bosniak (Muslim) residents. The vicious fight for land during the war has become a protracted struggle for justice, for remembrance and for the future of the next generation growing up and entering work in Srebrenica. It is a long road to travel.
The Long Road is a collaborative project between researcher and writer Clare Cook and photographer Kristian Skeie, whose images take us on the journey of the annual peace walk, a symbolic act of remembrance and dedication. The project pieces together the mosaic of life after genocide by looking at the struggle of the women of Srebrenica for justice and the new generation, born after the war, embarking on their own journey, which begins in an irreconciled community in which peace and prosperity seem a long way off.