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Stepping out onto his balcony on 7 December, Emsudin Civic was curious to find out what all the excitement on the street was about. Looking down, he saw EU flags and new neighbours moving into the brand new building next door. Then he heard his name called out by a familiar voice. As he turned, he saw his former neighbour from his hometown of Zvornik, Mujo Hamzic, standing on the balcony next to his.
Emsudin and Mujo had been separated by the war in 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, after 25 years, they have been reunited. Both of their blocks of flats had been constructed with EU assistance, making them next-door neighbours once again.
As they reached across from their balconies for a handshake, they could not hold back their tears. Images from the past were revived, mixed with sadness and joy of the new encounter and a hope for a better future.
Mujo’s is one of twenty internally displaced families who received keys to their new homes in Tuzla constructed as part of the EU Regional Housing Programme. The housing block next door where Emsudin lives had also been constructed with EU assistance last year, within a social housing project for vulnerable categories.
The new block of 20 flats is one of numerous housing blocks being built with EU assistance throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was an important and emotional day for all the families who, after 25 years of waiting, finally have a roof over their heads again.
“I never believed I would live to see the day,” Hanumica Jusić, a civilian war victim from Zvornik, responded with tears in her eyes as she accepted the keys to her flat. As her hands trembled, gripping the keys firmly and holding them close, a look filled with gratitude and a firm embrace brought tears to the eyes of everyone present.
435 housing units have been built so far within the Regional Housing Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a further 1,200 units are planned to be ready in 2018.
The European Union is the largest donor of the Regional Housing Programme and has so far allocated EUR 49 million for housing of some of the most vulnerable families in Bosnia and Herzegovina.