Program Officer, Balkans and Caucasus Programs, International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
A: It is difficult because for example in ??? it was the most politicized area. To go from one side to the other on the bridges they had what they called the bridge watchers which basically would be like "We'll beat the crap out of anyone we see going across that," you know, that type of thing. It really depends on the place but like I said I think a lot of it was just being really low key about it. Once it happens obviously we tried to intervene and that is where the partnerships we had with the U.N. and the other actors in these times we could call in and be like, "OK, can you mediate some kind of discussion where maybe we can allow for this to go forward?" But it was really on an ad hoc basis and it was difficult to because I think sometimes you can set a precedent of how you are going to deal with it if you don't anticipate it ahead of time and it is like suddenly you have empowered them to actually have a say in this when they shouldn't have any say. And sometimes you can allow for too much like we are so focused on getting funding to these groups that we are willing to ignore the fact, to forgive them of having to follow these guidelines. Which basically means that you are suddenly legitimating their desire to be separate or their desire not to acknowledge the fact that they have to look out for everyone in their community and opps there is a little part of their community that is not of their ethnic group which I think conceptually unfortunately that probably should happen more beforehand but it kind of worked itself out in a more ad hoc manner. Sometimes it worked out well and sometime it didn't.