SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — They survived the Balkan war and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and started a new life in a house in a calm Sarajevo neighborhood. Then another disaster struck.
Since 2000, the Bosnian family's home in the suburb of Ilidza has been flooded 25 times.
"Every year since 2000, my house is flooded once or twice," unemployed construction worker Almir Secerbegovic said Tuesday as he and his mother were walking around the flooded yard and house trying to decide what to do next.
Bosnians have still not recovered from the devastating floods in May, the worst in 120 years. Those floods hit 40 percent of Bosnia, displaced 90,000 people from their homes and left 43,000 homes in need of repair.
Heavy rain that has descended on the Bosnian capital in the last couple of days has again flooded about 140 houses in Ilidza, where many refugees built new homes after the 1992-95 war. The Bosna river, which runs through the suburb, is prone to bursting its banks once or twice a year.
Authorities had categorized the land as for agricultural use only, and no building permission can be issued.
But people expelled from their homes elsewhere in Bosnia bought the land and in chaotic postwar times built their homes on it without permits and without authorities objecting.
Secerbegovic, 39, has repaired the house and replaced the furniture numerous times.
Building a new one elsewhere would require funds the Secerbegovics don't have. Rebuilding this one over and over again is already too costly and despite the help from his brother who lives in the U.S., bills are piling up.
His life, Secerbegovic said, has been one tragedy after another. First the war, then the massacre in his town, Srebrenica, which killed about 8,000 Muslims and turned his family into refugees, and then a shattered dream of a new start in a quiet home with his mother, wife and two children.
"Since 1992, it has been one shock after another," Secerbegovic told The Associated Press.