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Ambassador's Notes: Embassy Sarajevo Views from U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia
CITIZEN SECURITY - A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN AUTHORITIES AND THE PEOPLE THEY SERVE
Autor: Maureen Elizabeth Cormack
Objavljeno: 17. May 2017. 16:05:23
BOSNIAN / BOSANSKI


BY MAUREEN ELIZABETH CORMACK: Lots of institutions have a hand in addressing threats to citizen security, and it’s essential that they work more closely together. I know there are problems – but my Embassy team has strong relationships with, and respect for, the many dedicated professionals across BiH who are devoted to keeping the people of this country safe. Our support for law enforcement and security forces includes a strong focus on helping them to help you – the individual citizens they serve, and the communities they live and work in.


With headlines around the world dominated by conflict, famine, terrorism, and disease, it’s easy to understand why sometimes we don’t want to leave the house. But what I sense as I talk to people in Bosnia and Herzegovina is that, while these global threats are troubling, they are also increasingly concerned about the perceived erosion of basic security citizens need to go about their daily lives in BiH. They’re worried about random, indiscriminate street crime, falling unintended victim to organized crime or a reckless driver, about the authorities not being able to protect them day-to-day, much less in an emergency situation – be it a natural disaster, or finding a lost child. We are focused on these problems as well, and believe that countering these challenges that hit close to home has to be coordinated, collective, multifaceted effort – one that is fundamentally a partnership between authorities at all levels and the people they serve.

Lots of institutions have a hand in addressing threats to citizen security, and it’s essential that they work more closely together. I know there are problems – but my Embassy team has strong relationships with, and respect for, the many dedicated professionals across BiH who are devoted to keeping the people of this country safe. Our support for law enforcement and security forces includes a strong focus on helping them to help you – the individual citizens they serve, and the communities they live and work in.

Progress has been made, through programs designed to improve capacity and capability of law enforcement and security services, and we want to help make sure that trend continues. You may have read about recent donations of radios and all-terrain vehicles to the Armed Forces, but what does that mean for you? It means they will be able to coordinate and respond to disasters faster, and better. The same goes for training and parts we’ve supplied for helicopters and their pilots, so they are ready for vital search and rescue or medical evacuation missions. The joint combined exchange training exercises we keep having with special police units? Those too help prepare units to respond in emergencies and improve cooperation between forces so they can respond together.

Likewise, humanitarian demining projects allow people across this country to safely return to their fields, gather firewood in the forest, and enjoy the stunning wilderness in BiH. With extensive support from the U.S. and other donors in the international community, the area considered potentially mined and dangerous covers less than a quarter of what it did after the war. And to make sure the legacy of the war does not continue to pose a threat to future generations, we work with authorities in BiH to get rid of old stockpiles of ammunition.

We know that effective security and vigilance is not enough to ward off all threats, which is why we focus on emergency response in our engagement with local authorities at all levels in BiH. This country will have an invaluable opportunity to hone and test its disaster preparedness capabilities with partners from around the region this fall when NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center and the Ministry of Security co-host a major consequence management field exercise in and around Tuzla. Participants will take part in a range of activities based on a scenario that will include a flood, an earthquake, landslides, and chemical incidents affecting the population and critical infrastructure in the canton. These are all very real threats that have already had an impact on the lives of thousands of people across this country in recent years. Citizens are right to be concerned -- but they also have an important role to play in helping to ensure their own security.

In any democracy, security cannot be imposed effectively from the top down, so our objectives have to include helping institutions work more closely with the communities they serve, while empowering people to better protect themselves and their families. Here in BiH, that means promoting community policing programs, working with communities to develop local civilian emergency response teams, and providing them with things like ropes and harnesses for search and rescue missions in Bosnia’s most treacherous terrain.

We meet constantly with leaders in local communities to find out more about their security needs and priorities. One of our most popular outreach initiatives started with just such a meeting, and resulted in a team of U.S. soldiers partnering with organizations in Mostar, Brcko District, Zenica, Tuzla, Banja Luka, Bihac, and Doboj to host women’s self-defense classes, which have provided hundreds of participants with the basic knowledge, skills, and confidence to protect themselves. That same team is now working with first responders in flood-prone areas to help ensure they are trained and equipped for rescues in fast moving water.

Our commitment to sustaining such initiatives is unwavering -- but won’t be successful without the active participation of each and every one of you in your own security. It is essential that citizens have faith in institutions while they work to improve. Yes, there are bad actors who need to be held accountable in order to rebuild and maintain the credibility of institutions, but there are also hard-working, dedicated professionals who deserve your support.


Finally, I have seen how communities come together when faced with adversity and threats to security here in BiH. Citizens taking to the streets to demand accountability after a tragic accident that took the lives of two young students, hundreds of total strangers pitching in on the desperate search for a lost child, friends and families helping people in Ribnica and Mramor start to try and rebuild their lives after the catastrophic landslides. Efforts like these are deeply moving and happen every day in this country, driven by a sense of empathy, compassion, and shared humanity that makes the people of BiH among the most resilient in the world. We look forward to continuing to help you help each other!



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