The town of Pakrac in Western Slavonia is now starting to rebuild following four years of war, destruction and ethnic division. The latest violent conflict, in a long history of war in this region, started in 1991. Before the war the town numbered around 9,000 inhabitants which consisted of 48% Serbs and around 35% Croats as well as Hungarian, Italian and Czechs minorities. Nowadays, Pakrac has around 4,000 inhabitants and is 70% destroyed. Most of the population fled during the fighting as the town changed hands five times. The cease-fire brought by the UN after six months meant that the town was divided by a cease-fire line.
Civilians returned on either side, but fighting still
continued sporadically across the line until May 1995 when
the Croatian army overran the Serbian side. Most of the
Serbian population then left. Nevertheless the Serbian
community in this area is still the biggest cohesive Serbian
community on the whole territory of Croatia under government
control (about 1000).
The cease-fire line no longer exists, so people are able to move freely from one part of the town to another. That means that obstacles for communication between the communities are no longer so visible. Although there are no physical barriers for communication between the two communities, psychological barriers are stronger then ever. Croats feel victorious and vengeful while Serbs feel humiliated and scared.
Both communities live in poor economic conditions as Pakrac is a ruined town with an economy that barely functions and few resources for reviving its agricultural production. Economic troubles in combination with personal psychological traumas and the state media's war propaganda contribute a great deal to tensions between and within the communities.