Red Cross BiH building in Sarajevo, which was declared a national cultural monument in 2009, was, for years, the site of wild dumps and an eyesore of the city.
After more than two decades, reconstructed part of the building was officially opened and in a few months, this building will get its original splendour.
The US Ambassador to BiH, Ms. Maureen Cormack, whose embassy invested huge funds into the restoration of this building, originally built in 1928, cut the ceremonial ribbon. "For the first time we provided our support in 2013 when the removal and clearing of rubbish was done in order to begin the renovation. Our second contribution was for interior works, which were also supported by a large number of our international partners. It is a great pleasure to be at the opening of this building, not because of the object, but because of what it represents for Sarajevo. I believe that this opening will inspire a community spirit of Sarajevo because this building was a center of community gatherings for many years before the war, and where citizens overcame differences between them and enjoyed numerous cultural and other events, "said Cormack.
Deputy Minister for Human Rights and Refugees BiH, Mr. Predrag Jović reminded that the Red Cross in BiH has existed here for 105 years and that its contribution is invaluable in helping the most vulnerable categories.
"This was demonstrated in catastrophic floods in 2014, but also in various activities that are carried out in BiH and abroad. We regularly support and monitor the work of the Red Cross of BiH, and each year we allocate 150,000 BAM for its work. ", stressed Jović.
President of RCSBIH , Mr. Rajko Lazić said that everyone is happy because they have their home now where they will be able to welcome their numerous friends.
"The building was for 25 years, a place of wild dumps where there was no life. We were subtenants at three addresses and paid/threw more than 800,000 BAM. This building was a disgrace to all levels of government because it is located in the center of the municipality, the city and the state. Nearly 800,000 BAM were invested in the reconstruction and I hope that it will present, as once it did, the center of life for young people and volunteers that are the greatest value of this organization, "Lazić said.
He thanked the US Embassy and to Red Crosses of Italy, Spain, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Switzerland which gave their support for the restoration of the building
The second part of the ceremony was held in the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, where, beside delegations of 12 national Red Cross / Red Crescent Societies (Italy, Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Switzerland, UAE ), were present the representatives of IFRC and ICRC, top senior leadership members of RCSBIH, as well as representatives of Embassies in BiH, representatives of state institutions, NGOs, partner organizations, professionals and volunteers of RCSBIH structure.
In his welcome speech, Mr Branko Leko, RCSBIH Secretary General , highlighted important dates and years for RCSBIH such as : 1912 – beginning of Red Cross operation in BiH; 15.12.2000. RCSBIH founding Assembly; recognition by IFRC and ICRC, 2004. – adoption of the Law on Red Cross Society of BiH .
He also said that „ All these dates and years are equally important, historical dates for our organisation which will soon, as a full right member of the Movement, reach its full age. But, all this time, all these 16 years and 7 months or 6.040 days, the Presidency and RCSBIH Technical service have been subtenants, changed 5 addresses for which was paid over 800.000,00 BAM for rent. If we add to that 8 years, 7 months and 3 days or the period from 12.05.1992 to 15.12.2000. which makes additional 3.135 days, we get the figure 9.175 days without a home, wondering from address to address. ”.
In the continuation of the ceremony, formal addresses were made by:
Mr. Rosario Valastro, vice president of the Italian Red Cross „Cooperation at this project began in 2015 with our decision to provide financial support from the very beginning of 1 phase of the reconstruction works. First phase was recently completed and we are now here to celebrate amazing results achieved together with our sister National Society, Red Cross of BiH.
Mrs. Mette Petersen, Head of the Cluster for Europe's Regional Office, IFRC, expressed her great satisfaction with the results of the reconstruction. She stressed that she visited the building several times while it was still in a devastated state, and on one occasion when they were together with a colleague from the Swiss RC headquarters in Bern, and that everyone was sceptical that it was possible to achieve this result.
Mr. Željko Filipović, Head of the ICRC delegation in BiH, stressed ,in particular, the long-standing good cooperation that the ICRC in BiH has had with RCSBIH and wished for a successful continuation of cooperation, now from the new headquarters of RCSBIH.
Mrs. Saliha Đuderija, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of BiH noted similarity in the work of the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees and RCSBIH and confirmed the commitment of the relevant Ministry to continue supporting RCSBIH in its further work.
Mr. Rajko Lazić, President of RCSBiH "I think that by working together, all of our activities gain a new dimension through the mutual exchange of experiences, knowledge and methods of work"
At the end of the presentation "How We Renovated the Home of the Red Cross of B & H", and officials speeches , all donors, sponsors and the Commission to preserve national monuments BiH were given Letters of Thanks for their generous contribution for the reconstruction of the building.