Bosnian leader visits Syrian refugees in Turkey

Bosnian member of the Tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic visits a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey's southeastern province Sanliurfa's Harran. Bosnians and Syrians share same pain from rending conflicts, says Bakir Izetbegovic


No one can understand Syrians as much as Bosnians do, the son of independent Bosnia’s first president said during his visit to a refugee camp in Turkey on Wednesday.


Bakir Izetbegovic -- the Bosniak member of the country’s tripartite presidency -- compared the wars that tore apart Bosnians’ and Syrians’ lives during his visit to a refugee camp in Harran, the southeastern Sanliurfa province.


Following the breakup of Yugoslavia and Bosnia’s independence, Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, came under attack from Bosnian Serb militias backed by the Yugoslav army, in what became the longest siege in modern history.


Between April 1992 and December 1995, an estimated 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million displaced in Bosnia. Up to 50,000 women, mostly Bosniak, were raped.


"Nobody can understand you as much as the Bosnians do. When we first saw the pictures of grief and pain from Syria, it took us back to our pain and our sorrow," he said.


"Half of our people were driven from their homes by force. All the houses we lived in were bombed and damaged. The men stayed in the city to defend it, while women and children became refugees," he added.


"Thank goodness our war ended. Your war will also end and you will live in freedom again," he said.


Izetbegovic was welcomed by a folk dance performance by Syrian children.


Later, Izetbegovic handed out gifts to the children and received a painting of his father Alija Izetbegovic.



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