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Archive file

VIP No. 0 - Project. Sep 23, 1993

Volunteers Information from Pakrac

Pakrac is a small town which is situated in one of the UNPA-zones
(United Nations Protected Areas). Today Pakrac is a town divided
in two: the border between the Serbian and Croatian controlled
areas leads through the town. Pakrac is almost completely
destroyed. There is hardly a single house which survived the war
without any damage. Many houses are left in ruins. Today normal
daily life is returning to Pakrac: some one thousand people have
come back to the town to try to rebuild their old lives. They are
being helped by international volunteers and the Croatian Anti-War
The first volunteers came to Pakrac on July 6th 1993. Fourteen
volunteers from all over Europe and Canada started - after
preparation in Zagreb they began three weeks of reconstruction
work. This was organised by Service Civil International SCI,
Suncokret (sunflower) and the AntiRatnaKampanja (Anti War
The international volunteers work together with Croats and Serbs
who have stayed and who have already themselves organised work
groups. Work has taken place on public buildings and on the houses
of old people who have lost their relatives in the war and who are
prepared themselves to join in the work. Consequently close
contact is developing between volunteers and local people.
At five o'clock in the morning the volunteers get up and go
without breakfast to work. Piles of stones, wood and other
material, which were once houses, are waiting in Pakrac and in the
neighbouring Lipik to be taken away. At nine o'clock breakfast
comes, then lunch is at 12 'clock on the construction site. At 2
pm the volunteers finish their work because it's just too hot to
work. In the afternoons volunteers have been involved in other
forms of reconstruction - social sharing and exchange such as
visiting families, organising activities for children, language
classes, art restoration in churches and a weekly local radio-
programe. The evening belongs to discussions in the local pubs,
the first businesses which returned to the destroyed town.

The reconstruction work in Pakrac and the rebuilding of social
structures can only be a slow process and depends on support from
foreign countries. The whole project is very fragile and is only
possible through the goodwill of the Serbian and Croatian local
and national authorities. The smallest incident could make the
stay of the international volunteers and the reconstruction work
To create the base for solid and permanent peace will take
decades. Practical help of reconstructing houses and social help
to break through the isolation of the people in Pakrac is a first
step in this direction. Hopefully the Serbian local authorities
will free the way so that reconstruction with volunteers can start
as well in the Serbian part of the town. Every step of
understanding is a great success and demands big efforts.

To find the volunteers working in Pakrac and to get the needed
funds for the reconstruction, information about the Pakrac-
Reconstruction has to be provided. Up to september 17, when the
5th group started, 45 volunteers from 12 countries spent more than
6000 working hours in reconstruction and more than 300 hours in
social projects. The importance of the Pakrac-Reconstruction-
Project for other future projects is obvious.
The international volunteers, with help and support of UN-Vienna
Office, will provide once to twice a week a Newsletter on email,
called "Volunteers Information from Pakrac - VIP". Volunteers will
draft the actual political and security situation in Pakrac, the
results and problems of their reconstruction and social work,
their personal experiences and needs.
VIP is published on international email-conferences listed below
and accessable to everybody. A printed and copied version will be
available for local relief organisations, autorities, visitors and
medias. Specially it is provided to former volunteers for their
efforts in fund raising and material support to the Pakrac
Reconstruction Project.
On the other side, the connection with email provides the
volunteers in Pakrac also information from the rest of the world
and the country as well as a fast and easy way of direct
communication about problems and needs to Zagreb and abroad.
Thereby it can be good support for the local young people,
starting the project of a youth magazin.

The volunteers prepare VIP together. Everybody can bring in his
and her ideas. Martin Schaefer and Burkhard Pranke will take care
for the tecnical side. UNOV will provide access to the computer
and telefonline, till the volunteers get their own office space or
till another solution is found. In agreement with Annet O'Gorman
and other UNOV-staff, Martin and Burkie are allowed to use the
UNOV facilities.

Roland Brunner, Martin Schaefer, Burkhard Pranke, Goran Bozicevic,
after discussion with the 5th group of volunteers.

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