BiH Municipality from which residents flee for decades

Vida Rakic has been living there since 1958. She says she has never felt lonely because she has four daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“I live alone. I always tell them to come and visit, but they are unable because they work all the time,” Rakoc said.

The village is mostly populated by elderly people. Even though they have an elementary school in the village, only 5 students attend the school in a combined grade. A teacher, Rada Sisljagic lives here as well, but she is listed on the Employment Office list of unemployed persons. 

“Everyone knows I am unemployed. Job adds are rarely published these days. Basically, some work double time, some work as freelancers, but I am unemployed”, Sisljagic said.

According to the latest census of population in BiH, 582 Serbs live in Odzak, even though estimates on the ground say there are only around 200 Serbs left. 

“As far as I know, there are no Serbs employed in public institutions of this Municipality. There used to be many more Serbs in the area of Novi Grad and Dubica. Serb villages are not the only ones that are empty. Even though there are no exact data, people have been leaving Odzak for decades. Serbs are mostly leaving for RS municipalities, several kilometers away.

“The Municipaity is working on this as much as possible. It is combating this issue by providing budget funds and cofinancing the Serb Cultural Society. Recently I increased these funds a little”, Ivankovic said.

Some parents send their children to school to RS. One of the reasons for this is the fact that children here learn Croatian language.  

“They want their children to learn Sebian language, so now we have 17 children from Odžak going to schools in neighbouring municipalities. Bosniak children in Zvornik and Kotor Varos are demanding their rights, as are we demanding our guaranteed rights,” said Damir Ivetic from the Serb Civic Association.

Children going to schools in RS do not have the right to an allowance provided by Posavina Canton, nor do they receive any help from RS.

“As far as RS is concerned, I must admit that this assistance has so far been very small and passive and I hope some institutions will improve this relationship.”

Everyone in Novi Grad has a hard time. Pictures of demolished houses and empty streets may best reflect the life in this Municipality.

In order to buy a basic living necesity, Novi Grad residents must head to the nearyby Odžak Municipality. The last grocery store in Novi Grad had closed recently.