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The so-called Bosnian War broke out when Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the six constituent republics of Yugoslavia, declared its independence in March 1992. Up until then the dissolution of Yugoslavia had already been in progress, also leading to wars in Slovenia (Ten-Day-War 1991) and Croatia (1991-1995), as well as later to the Kosovo War (1999). The Bosnian War lasted until December 1995, with varying intensity. Due to the country’s mixed population with three major ethnicities (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs), the armed conflicts were often characterized as ethnically or religiously (between Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox) motivated.
While the Yugoslav People´s Army (mainly Serbian), the Army of the Bosnian Serbs, the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (mainly Bosniaks) and the Croatian Army (Bosnian Croats), supported by the Army of Croatia, were involved in the conflict; militia, paramilitary groups and gangs, and mercenary soldiers from the Middle East, Russia and other countries joined the fighting as well. Brutal violence, systematic rape, pillaging of houses and international help convoys, massacres, ethnic cleansing and extermination of whole villages and cities were characteristic of the Bosnian War. With the siege of Sarajevo (1992-1996) and especially the massacre of Srebrenica in 1995, a village under UN-protection, this war entered the European public eye and set the scene for heavy criticism regarding the role of the European Union, the United Nations and the international community as well as their efficiency in conflict resolution.
The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina officially ended with the conflicting parties signing the Dayton Peace Agreement on 14th of December 1995 in Paris. This accord, initiated mainly by the US, but also by Russia and the European Union, framed, among other points, the demarcation of Bosnia and Herzegovina into two governing entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska.
According to various estimates the Bosnian War took between 100,000 and 250,000 human lives. About two million people were displaced and dispersed into 25 different countries all over the world. Many of them never returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina.