It passed almost 20 years since Bosnian war ended. The process of return of refugees and displaced persons to their former areas of residence is also completed for the most part. At this stage in the postwar period, more notice needs to be taken of how minority people remain and live in their place of origin because they can be thought as a major contributor to the persistence of multiethnic traits of Bosnian societies.
In this paper three research examples are examined. One is the research conducted in the town in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other two are researches carried out in the residential areas in the towns of Bosnian Serb Republic (“Republika Srpska"). In each area of research, either Serbs, or Croats, or Bosniaks live in a considerably difficult condition as returnees who belong to ethnic minority. This paper analyzes the factors which support their survival.
Major research findings are as follows.
There are two fundamental factors which serve as backbone of the life of minorities. One is the full restoration of security. Namely people can live without fear. One thinks this is a matter of course. However it was not taken for granted because minority returnees often received harassment such as violence, intimidation from the majority forces after a definite period of postwar years.
Another factor is recovery of the basis for human life. This can be divided into two sub factors. One is the reconstruction of damaged houses and destroyed local infrastructure to a certain extent. The other one is possession of a means of earning a living. Aside from pensioner, this means having a job of some kind, although among minority returnees anywhere are there few who work as a full-time employee. Most of them make a living engaging in agriculture or a home business because of rare employment opportunities.
However, the significant finding obtained from this research is the fact that there are several additional factors which provide support for the life of minorities. The first one is tenacious vitality of local residents. In other words, this is a willingness to try anything to make up for the lack of a steady source of income. The second additional support is the existence of mutual neighborhood assistance in the local town. In this point, religious communities formed by residents gathering in church or mosque also serve an important function, providing a final safety net for the living difficulty of helpless persons.
Thirdly, most of minority returnees have a special fondness for their home town. For one example, this may be a strong wish of the elderly to live and die in a familiar place. Such notions lead them to return and remain home at any cost. In other cases this can be a sense of responsibility which motivates some of high potential younger persons to return home and to do something to help ethnic brothers in home town in order to alleviate their suffering and hardship.